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1. Apostolic Address and Greeting
2 Corinthians 1:1-2
1Paul, an Apostle of Jesus Christ [Christ Jesus]1 by the will of God, and Timothy our [the] brother unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints 2which are in all Achaia. Grace be to you and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Comp. on 1 Corinthians 1:1 ff. The salutation in 2 Corinthians 1:2 is precisely like that in the former Epistle. The address in 2 Corinthians 1:1 is briefer: ἀπόστολος is without κλητός, and ἐκκλεσία with only a local definition. Timothy has the same position which Sosthenes had there, and it is evident that he must have returned to the Apostle from his mission to Corinth (1 Corinthians 4:17; 1 Corinthians 16:10 f. Comp. Introd.). The persons addressed are designated with more particularity than in 1 Corinthians 1:2, as “all the saints which are in all Achaia.” From their being addressed as τοῖς ἁγίοις, and not as ἐκκλησίαι (as in Galatians 2:2, comp. Ephesians 1:1) it does not necessarily follow that they were only isolated individuals, or small companies without a distinct ecclesiastical organization. And yet we should have no greater certainty in maintaining the contrary. [Alford suggests that the word “saints” is used rather than “churches” as in Galatians 1:2, because the matters principally to be discussed in the Epistle concerned only the Corinthians as a church, and those living in the province generally merely as individual saints]. In either case they were all connected with the Church of Corinth as the mother-church. With respect to the name Achaia, the common usage of the time as it is seen in Acts 19:21, and especially the phrase ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ Ἀχαϊα, abundantly warrants us in assuming that it is here used in its most extensive meaning.2—Moreover, this expression does not justify us in concluding (with Neander) that our Epistle was encyclical in its object, for the entire scope of its contents would be opposed to such a view, and we should be obliged to infer that all Christians throughout the province [including those at Athens, Cenchreæ, and perhaps Sicyon, Argos, etc.] were involved in the censures directed against the mother-church (comp. Osiander, Introd. § 3).
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
2. Thanks for Divine consolations under his tribulations; the blessings conferred upon him thereby for the better discharge of his official duties, and the fellowship between him and his readers (2 Corinthians 1:3-11)
3Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. 5For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation 6[comfort] also aboundeth by Christ. And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation [comfort] and salvation, [or whether we be comforted, it is for your comfort] which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: [om. or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation]: and our hope 7of you is steadfast,3 knowing that as4 ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be 8[are ye] also of the consolation [comfort]. For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of5 our trouble which came to us6 in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure,7 9above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life. But we [ourselves] had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: 10Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver:8 in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us: 11ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf.9
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
This ascription of praise and thanksgiving differs from others of a different character (Ephesians 1:3 ff.; 1 Peter 1:3 ff.), in those respects in which our Epistle is peculiar. It gives special prominence to what was personal to the writer, and what pertained to his individual fellowship with his readers. We are not, however, to seek in it for a direct and studied design to gain the esteem of his opponents, by excusing his delay in coming to Corinth by way of captatio benevolentiæ, or to bring his readers to see that the love which formerly burned in his heart was still glowing there. It was rather the spontaneous effusion of a father’s love toward a church which he had been compelled so severely to reprove, and which he still felt bound to address with some severity; and an earnest effort to awaken in them a hearty reciprocation of his affection. It is, however, possible that it contains an incidental and indirect parrying of the insinuation that his sufferings might be an indication of the divine displeasure (Osiander).
2 Corinthians 1:3 a. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.—The meaning of the word Blessed (εὐλογητός) is not: God is worthy of praise, with ἐστίν understood, but: Blessed or Praised be God, with εἵη understood. The word is not unfrequently used in the Sept. as a rendering for בָּרוּךְ. The God and Father signifies, He who is both God and Father (1 Corinthians 15:24). Το͂υ κυρίου ἡμῶν, etc., is governed by πατῆρ alone, although in other passages the dependence of Christ the Lord upon ὁ θεός is obviously expressed (Comp. Ephesians 1:17; John 20:17).—In addition to the more general idea in ὁ θεός (the God), the Apostle wished to remind them, as in Ephesians 1:3, and Romans 15:6, of the more special source of that fellowship which exists between God and believers (2 Corinthians 5:2). Neander: “It is quite in accordance with Paul’s usual manner to express, first God’s general relation to the religious spirit by the name of ὁ θεός, and then the special relation in which God stands to the Christian by the phrase, The Father of our Lord.” This is followed by a more detailed specification of what God had done, and what he had himself experienced: the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3 b). These genitives (τῶν οἰκτ. and πάσης παρακ.) intimate that God was the source from which both the mercies and every comfort must proceed, or, more probably, we have in οἰκτιρμῶν (as in Romans 12:1, where the word is equivalent to רַהֲמים) the genitive of the attribute, as in κύριος τῆς δόξης (1 Corinthians 2:8), equivalent to ὁ πατὴρ οἰκτίρμων, and in πάσης παρακλήσεως the genitive of the effect. From the mercies proceeds the comfort, inasmuch as he becomes, of course, the God of all comfort by being the Father of mercies.—In such a connection (comp. 2 Corinthians 5:4) παράκλησις signifies that kind, tranquilizing, animating encouragement one needs in the midst of sufferings (comp. the use of παρακαλε͂ιν in Isaiah 40:1, as the rendering of נִהַם, and also in 2 Corinthians 7:6).—This consolation was procured by the Holy Spirit’s influence upon the heart by means of the word of God, special providences (deliverances, etc.) and human ministrations (comp. 2 Corinthians 7:6).—[We here meet with an application to God in general of the idea of the παράκλησις, which in John’s writings is commonly ascribed to Christ and to the Holy Spirit. The whole work of the Paraclete or Comforter (Consoler) is accomplished by an application of the entire work and consequences of redemption to the believer. Comp. Stanley; also Wordsworth on Jno. xiv. 16; and Braun on 1 Jno. ii. 1; Hare on the Comforter]. Its extent and copiousness is expressed by πάσης all), since it is thus related to all kinds and degrees of trouble (2 Corinthians 5:4). What he here ascribes to God in general he asserts in 2 Corinthians 5:4, that he and his fellow-laborers had enjoyed not only at special seasons, but at all times. Who is comforting us in all our afflictions (2 Corinthians 1:4 a). The present who is comforting implies especially that these consolations were repeated and continued without interruption. In ἡμᾶς he referred more particularly to himself, but not to the exclusion of his companions in labor and suffering, and certainly he meant more than would have been implied by the use of the first person singular (comp. Meyer and de Wette). The preposition ἐπί introduces either the things by means of which (=ἐν), or (better), those with respect to which he was consoled [Jelf. Gr. Gram. § 634, 1 a]. Afflictions of every kind, and as a whole (comp. θλῖψς in 1 Corinthians 7:28), are included under the phrase, in all our afflictions. He thus recognizes what had been the divine aim in conducting him through such an experience. As he had been made to feel his need of divine consolations, so the enjoyment of those consolations was of great benefit to him; that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted by God (2 Corinthians 1:4 b).—The idea is not merely that others would be encouraged by the example of patience and constancy which those divine consolations had enabled him to present, but rather that his experience had qualified him to assist those who were in any kind of trouble, by imparting to them the same consolations. He could now point them to the answers which his own prayers had received, to the rational foundation of a Christian’s confidence and hopes, and to the promises and tender assurances God had given to His people. Neander: “There was, in fact, no way of making a deeper impression upon others than by testifying to them in this manner what he had realized in his actual experience.” In ἡς we have a remarkable instance of relative attraction, the irregularity of which can be obviated only by referring to the construction of παρακαλεῖν παράκλῃσιν (see Winer’s Idioms, §14, 1, p. 136). We have a similar instance in Ephesians 4:1 (and 2 Corinthians 1:7, according to the readings of Lachm. and Griesb.).
2 Corinthians 1:5. For as the sufferings of Christ abound toward us, even so through Christ our consolation also abounds.—A reason is here assigned for what had been asserted in the preceding verse (οτι being equivalent to γάρ). But to what part of 2 Corinthians 5:4 does this reason refer? Osiander regards it as an explanation of the way in which it is said in the final sentence that he had been qualified to console others in their sufferings. But no reference is made to this until the sixth verse. The true answer probably is, that the Apostle is here endeavoring to place in a clearer light the main thought which he had brought out in 2 Corinthians 5:4 with respect to his experience of divine consolation, and which he had expressed in the two phrases, who is comforting, and where with we are comforted by God, and that thus he was naturally led back to the thanksgiving he had offered in the third verse. He describes the degree of consolation as commensurate with the distress. The distress itself he proceeds more particularly to characterize as the sufferings of Christ. This expression may mean sufferings endured either for Christ’s sake, or by Christ Himself, or by Christ in His members. The words themselves will hardly bear the first of these interpretations: the idea conveyed in the third is not very clearly consistent with the doctrine of the New Testament; and we may regard the second as essentially correct. Those sufferings of Christ which are shared by His servants, and in which they may have fellowship with Him (Philippians 3:10; Colossians 1:24, etc.; Matthew 20:22; Hebrews 13:13; 1 Peter 4:13), are such as they endure while struggling with the world and its rulers, and such as are inflicted on them for the cause of God (for righteousness’ sake). “Whoever suffers such things endures the same kind of evils with those which Christ underwent” (Meyer). The idea of these sufferings of Christ is further extended by Neander: “We must concede that all those sufferings which the believer endures in the spirit of Christ, of whatever nature they may be, may very properly be looked upon as a part of his following of Christ.”—To these sufferings the consolation through Christ is said to correspond. Those who enter into the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings will experience His sympathy, and through this a degree of consolation proportioned to their sufferings. Such as suffer with Christ (Romans 8:17), will receive divine consolation through Christ. Both are said to overflow (περισσεύει), to be always realized in abundance. This, however, does not imply that the measure of these sufferings was greater than that which Christ endured (analogous to the “greater works” mentioned in John 14:12). The depth and delicacy of the Apostle’s piety are admirably exhibited in his mention of divine consolations, at the same time and with an equal degree of prominence. Comp. Bengel: [“The words and their order are sweetly interchanged: παθήματα· παράκλησις, sufferings; consolation—the former are numerous; the latter is but one, and yet exceeds the former. In this very Epistle, as compared with the former, is shed forth a far greater amount of consolation for the Corinthians, and of course the whole inner man was more perfectly renewed, and increased more and more”].
2 Corinthians 1:6 a. But whether we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation, or whether we are comforted it is for your comfort;—The Apostle now proceeds to apply what he had just said to those whom he was addressing. His afflictions and his consolations would be alike productive of good in their behalf. In the two inferential or minor propositions of the sixth verse, the verb of the preceding sentence must be supplied, or briefly: “this was,” etc. Υπέρ, has here the sense of: for the advantage, for the interest, in behalf of, of any one—which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer (2 Corinthians 1:6 b.).—Irrespective of the different readings of this passage, we may at once mention as settled points: 1. That τῆς ἐνεργουμένης (which are effectual) is to be construed, as in every other part of Paul’s writings, as an active and not a passive participle (comp. Romans 7:5; Galatians 5:6; Ephesians 3:20; Colossians 1:29; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Thessalonians 2:7). 2. That εἰδότες (knowing) refers to the knowledge which Paul, not the Corinthians, possessed. 3. That τῶν αὐτων (the same) does not imply that their sufferings were literally the same, as if he were speaking merely of their sympathy; for καὶ ἡμεῖς (we also) would be directly opposed to such an interpretation, and ἐν ὑπομονῇ (in the enduring) would hardly seem appropriate to it. The words imply simply that their sufferings were of a kind similar to the sufferings of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:5). If we receive the strongly attested reading which Lachmann and Tischendorf have preferred, and especially if we construe τῆς ἐνεργουμένης with a passive signification, the participial sentence will present us with the explanatory definition of the minor term of the previous proposition which is so much needed, and without which that proposition seems rather strange and indeterminate with respect to the part of 2 Corinthians 5:4 to which it should be applied. In this case also εἰδότες is connected very appropriately, and without an anacoluthon with the παρακαλούμεθα of 2 Corinthians 5:4 which is to be supplied before εἰδότες here; and finally, the several members of the sentence appear to possess a more perfect congruity, inasmuch as the first acquires a more extensive definition by means of τῆς ἐνεργουμένης, etc., and the second by means of εἰδότες, etc. These advantages, however, are to some extent only apparent; since the connection of εἰδότες with παρακαλουμεθα cannot be logically justified (since it could be followed only by ὅτι). On the other hand, its connection with καὶ ἡ ἐλπίς ἡμῶν βεβαία would be grammatically natural (comp. Meyer) and logically correct. For the ἐλπίς refers here not to its ultimate object, i. e., the eternal glory, but to the more immediate consolation which he anticipated, when they should enter upon the same kind of sufferings with those he was enduring, and which he was assured they would endure with ὑπομονῇ, i. e., with steadfastness and perseverance (comp. Romans 5:3).—By accepting the reading which Bengel, Griesbach and Meyer have defended, and which is sustained by equally strong documentary and more probable internal evidence, we should have in τῆς ὑπὲρ τῆς ὑμῶν παρακλήσεως καὶ σωτηρίας, a resumption of the subject of the design of his afflictions in 2 Corinthians 5:4 (εἰς τὸ δίωασθ., etc., i. e.), “that we may be instrumental in promoting your consolation and salvation.” The reference here would therefore be to the Apostle’s instrumentality in this respect, and to his qualification therefor by an experience of suffering. Certainly such a view has more in its favor than that which maintains that Paul’s afflictions were beneficial only to the degree in which they promoted the cause of that Gospel on which their whole consolation and salvation depended. The meaning might possibly be that the Apostle’s afflictions were of advantage to the Corinthians, on the ground that they made a profitable use of them, inasmuch as they might be encouraged and strengthened, by his example of faith and steadfastness, to persevere like him unto final salvation. Or, with still greater simplicity, we may suppose that the Corinthians would be sustained under their afflictions, for the Gospel’s sake, by seeing that their spiritual father had endured similar afflictions; and hence by seeing that these were so far from indicating that God was displeased with them, they rather implied that they were truly the Lord’s servants, and belonged to Him whom the world hated. This last, we believe, will be found the most correct interpretation of this passage. That which was so effectual for their consolation was equally effectual for their salvation, inasmuch as it strengthened them for that endurance to which the promise of salvation was annexed (Matthew 24:18; comp. James 1:12). In the second member of the sentence καὶ σωτηρίας does not probably belong to the original text. Were it genuine we should be thereby informed that this salvation also was, when the Apostle wrote, working in the endurance of sufferings, because the hope of salvation gave them power to persevere under them. We may explain it is for your comfort—either by a reference to 2 Corinthians 1:4, and making it allude to the consoling influence of the Apostle, or by giving it a meaning like that of the first member of the sentence, viz., that the Corinthians were sustained and encouraged, in the midst of their sufferings, by seeing how the Apostle was comforted under similar sufferings.—In the sentence: And our hope of you is steadfast, the words, of you belong not exclusively either to the subject or to the predicate, but to both of them. In 2 Corinthians 1:7 the word partakers must imply not merely a sympathy with, but an actual participation in, the outward (objective) sufferings. It relates however not to Christ (as in Philippians 3:10) nor to believers in general, but as the connection shows, to the Apostle himself. They were his companions, not only in suffering, but in consolation. Neander: “If the Apostle is here speaking of what is essential to Christian fellowship, he could hardly have presumed, that the great body of the congregation were in the exercise of it; but he must have spoken of what ought to be, and of what he would fain hope was, the fact, rather than of what he knew to be a reality.”
2 Corinthians 1:8-11. Particular peril through which he had passed.—The Apostle had spoken in the previous verses of his trials and consolations only in general terms; he now proceeds to give them some details (γὰρ) with reference to his most recent, experience. [Stanley: “The moment he begins to address the Corinthians (directly), two feelings arise in his mind, and cross each other in almost equal proportions. The first is an overwhelming sense of gratitude for his deliverance from his distress; and the second is the keen sense which breathes through both the Epistles, but especially through the Second, of his unity of heart and soul with his Corinthian converts. This identity of feeling between the Apostle and them, must be borne in mind throughout. It accounts for a large portion of the peculiarities of the Apostle’s style; the double self which creates as it wore a double current of feeling and thought, now taking the form of passionate sympathy, now of anxiety, now of caution and prudence; the plural number which he employs in this Epistle even more frequently than elsewhere for himself, as if including his readers also.”] For we would not have you ignorant: comp. on 1 Corinthians 10:1; as in 2 Thessalonians 2:1, ὑπέρ has here the sense of: concerning, or with respect to. The more fluent περί was substituted as a correction at an early period and is found even in A. C. D. [Sinait.] et al. The particular affliction which the Apostle had in view, cannot now be determined. The context (2 Corinthians 1:4 f.) is decidedly against any reference of these words to some severe sickness (Ruckert, Bisping, [Alford, Stanley]). The tumult raised by Demetrius at Ephesus produced no immediate danger to his person, inasmuch as he was persuaded by his friends not to appear in public (Acts 19:30). We are informed of no serious disturbances before or after that event. The general expression, in Asia (1 Corinthians 16:19), seems to favor a reference to some incident in another place. The most probable suggestion is that he was alluding to the efforts of his many adversaries to lay wait for and ensnare him (1 Corinthians 16:9). The details had probably been made known to the Corinthians by oral accounts (through Titus). The point on which he here insists, and which he presents in strong terms, is the greatness of his affliction. The essential idea is contained in the phrase, we were pressed out of measure beyond strength. The word βαρεῖσθαι includes within its meaning the feeling of oppression and distress produced by any kind of affliction and persecution (comp. 2 Corinthians 11:26). The specifications contained in the expressions, out of measure, and beyond strength, may either be coördinated so that the first of them shall present the objective side of the affair, i. e., the exceedingly great load which weighs one down out of all measure; and the latter the subjective side, i. e., that which surpasses all his power of endurance; or the first of these may be taken as a more particular definition either of ὑπὲρ δύναμιν, as is intimated by the position of the phrase before ἐβαρήθημεν in some copies (according to Lachmann’s reading, sustained by A. B. C. [Sinait] et al.), or of ἐβαρήθημεν ὑπὲρ δὐναμιν, as certainly deserves the preference if the words be arranged according to the well sustained ordinary reading. The omission of the conjunction (asyndeton) is no argument against the coördination of the phrases, for we may (with Osiander) regard the second as a climactic expression, q. d., “an exceedingly great burden, yea, surpassing all my power of endurance.” Such an expression would not necessarily be in conflict with 1 Corinthians 10:13 (comp. 2 Corinthians 12:9). In saying: despaired of life, the Apostle meant that he was completely at his wits’ end, and that he saw no way by which his life could be saved. It is only in another and an absolute sense that he denies, in 2 Corinthians 4:8, that he was ever in despair. He intensifies the same idea in 2 Corinthians 1:9, in a positive form and in an independent sentence. Ἀλλὰ indicates a negative: not only saw we no method by which our lives could be saved, but we had in our own hearts the conviction that we had been condemned to death; i. e., we were satisfied that the time had come when we were to die. Ἀπόκριμα is not precisely equivalent to κατάκριμα (a sentence of death), but it signifies an authoritative sentence, a decree, or an answer [the substance of the decision, the ψῆφον (Chrys.) the vote or judgment which our affairs spoke forth]. To the question whether we should escape death, we could ourselves return nothing but a negative answer. The idea expressed in αὐτοὶ ἐν ἑαυτο͂ις is: no way of escape seemed open to us with our lives, for we had adjudged our own selves to death, and we were sure that nothing but death awaited us. Τοῦ θανάτου denotes the object of the ἀπόκριμα. [The historical perfect ἑσχήκαμεν instead of the aorist ἔσχομεν, indicates, the continuance of the feeling: “We have had” this consciousness, and have it still, as a permanent state of mind comp. Wordsworth.] It is not precisely said in any part of the context, that this was a divine sentence; and yet the whole state of mind and the distinct expectation of death is probably so far to be referred to God, that it was the special design of God to produce the confidence mentioned in the next clause:—that we should not trust in men, &c.—The consciousness of perfect helplessness, and of an entire surrender to the power of death, took away every motive or trace of confidence in himself, in his own power or skill, and prepared him to throw himself exclusively upon the God who raiseth the dead.—The raising of the dead is here spoken of, because it is one of the highest exhibitions of divine power, and because it was something perpetually accomplished and characteristic of God, and not merely something to be done in future (comp. Romans 4:17). And yet the literal and general resurrection may have been indefinitely before the Apostle’s mind, as the model and pledge of a temporal deliverance from certain death (Osiander, Meyer). Such an epithet also very well corresponds with the subject on which he was about to discourse.—Who delivered us from so great a death (2 Corinthians 1:10).—The Apostle appeals to his own actual experience to prove that such a confidence was well grounded, and that God had been such a deliverer to him. Τηλικούτος primarily signifies: so old or so young, and then: so great. [By its lengthened form it seems, as it were, to picture forth the continuity and accumulation of the extreme perils. Osiander.]. He conceived of himself as in such danger, that he was completely embraced by a deadly power, whose violence and terror is indicated by such a word. The reference is back to 2 Corinthians 1:9. In ῥύεσθαι ἐκ he describes his forcible rescue from this power as if from the wrath of death. Καὶ ῥύεται implies by its present form that the machinations of his enemies had not. yet ceased, and he implies that he expected similar perils in his future course; but from them all he was firmly convinced that God would continue to deliver him:—in whom also we trust (ἠλπίκαμεν 1 Corinthians 15:19; John 5:45), that He will yet deliver us.—The perils here alluded to were similar to those recorded in Acts 20:3. The enemies who thus pursued him with their wiles were the Asiatic Jews, [whose influence and hatred against him as the greatest enemy of their national customs, extended even to Macedonia (comp. Meyer)], and never ceased until they had nearly accomplished their purpose at Jerusalem (Acts 21:27 ff).—For the sake of the great work he had been sent to accomplish, he was anxious to be delivered from these evils; and though he never shrunk from any peril he considered necessary to be encountered, he made use of every possible precaution to secure his safety (Acts 20:3; Acts 21:13). As in another Epistle he earnestly pleads with the Roman Christians that they would intercede in his behalf, with reference probably to these same perils; so in this place he exhibits his confidence in the intercessions of his Corinthian brethren (2 Corinthians 1:11).—Ye also helping together by prayer for us.—His hope of future deliverance was intimately connected with the assurance that they would coöperate with him and with others in prayer for that object. This may not have been precisely the sole condition on which he expected divine assistance, and yet he seems to have regarded it as the medium through which a real assistance might be expected (comp. Philippians 1:19; Romans 15:30 ff). He had no doubt that God would be pleased with, and answer those intercessions, which were offered under a divine influence with faith and love. The σύν has reference to an association in prayer, either with himself or with others in his behalf. The latter view is favored by the καὶ, (also) and is probably the correct one, since the relation to the Apostle is pointed out rather by ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν, which cannot be drawn into connection with δεήσει by a hyperbaton without a needless harshness of construction. [Chrysostom: “He neither ascribes the whole of the good work to them, lest he should lift them up, nor yet deprives them of all share in it, that he might encourage them and animate their zeal, and bring them together one to another.”]
Having thus given prominence to this aspect of the fellowship between him and the Corinthians, he now directs their attention to the ultimate design of God in delivering him by such means:—that thanks may be given, &c.—The χάρισμα, the deliverance so graciously bestowed by God, ought to be followed by thanksgiving. Εὐχαριστηθῇ may indeed be translated: to get thanks (comp. Passow and de Wette). With τὸ εἰς ἡμᾶς, (in the sense of: what is for our part), corresponds ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν. for our sake, or for our good, inasmuch as the payment of a debt of gratitude will result in further benefits. But what would then be the sense of ἐκ πολλῶν προσώπων and διὰ πολλῶν? Do both of them refer to persons, or is the second to be taken as a neuter in the sense of: prolixe, with many words? This last would seem very feeble and unsuitable to the intimate relation of the one phrase to the other. But neither can ἐκ πολλῶν προσώπων signify: from many considerations, nor in many respects. There remain, however, several ways in which the words may be connected: 1.Ἐκ πολλῶν προσώπων may be joined with τὸ—χάρισμα, under the supposition of a hyperbaton equivalent toτὸ ἐκ, and διὰ πολλῶν may be joined withεὐχαριστηθῇ [q. d. that for the gift bestowed upon us by many persons, thanks may be rendered through many on our behalf]. In this case, διὰ would not have precisely the same meaning as ὑπό, but those rendering thanks would be looked upon as representatives or organs of the Apostle.—Osiander. 2. Ἐκ πολλῶν προσώπων may be joined with εὐ χαριστηθῇ and διὰ πολλῶν with χάρισμὰ[q. d. that for the gift bestowed upon us through many, thanks may be rendered by many persons on our behalf]. In this case the want of the article (τὸ διὰ) would certainly be remarkable, but would not be inconsistent with the analogy of other places. 3. Both may be connected with εὐρχαριστηθῇ, but in different relations. The same persons may be understood as referred to in both phrases, but in ἐκ πολλῶν προσώπῶν they are regarded as the persons from whom the thanksgiving proceeds, and in διἁ πολλῶν they are spoken of as the medium or occasion for the thanksgiving, because the deliverance had been effected through their intercessions (Meyer), [q. d. that for the gift bestowed upon us, thanks may be rendered through many, by many persons on our behalf]. If we adopt this last interpretation, it cannot but seem desirable, that at least a καὶ had been thrown in before διὰ πολλῶν, for without it the whole expression appears too elliptical and unmeaning. On the whole we prefer the second method, which connects διὰ πολλῶν with τὸ χάρισμα even without the article, to the always harsh hyperbaton which the first method renders necessary. According to later usage, πρόσωπον had the sense of: person; properly, the man, quatenus aliquam personam obtinet. Here it means: qui partes των εὐ χαριστούντων agunt (Meyer). [The delicacy and beauty of the prominent and related phrases: ἐκ πολλῶν, and διἁ πολλῶν, εἰς ἡμᾶς, and ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν, χάρισμα and εὐ χαριστηθῇ, should not be overlooked (Osiander). On all these deliverances and thanksgivings the Apostle says he had set and was setting his hope (ἠλπίκαμεν, the perfect expressing the continuance and permanence of the ἐλπίς, and εἰς marking the direction of the hope, with perhaps some faint (locative) notion of union or communion with the object of it). Ellicott on 1 Timothy 4:10.]
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
Christians enjoy a threefold fellowship, in suffering, in consolation and in prayer; but this only proves that their life of faith and love is essentially one in Christ. Their life is derived from what Christ has suffered for them. This is the source of all their peace and strength, and this brings them into affectionate communion with him, so that his cause becomes their own. Just as he took on himself the load of their guilt, they appropriate to themselves the cause of righteousness, of God and of his kingdom for which he contended and suffered, and share in all his struggles and sufferings. It is their highest joy and glory to endure reproach and persecution for his name’s sake. And as this fellowship and unity with him is common to them all, the suffering of any one of them for the common cause is shared also by each: they all wrestle in prayer for him, and they all become sharers in his consolation and joy. They will look upon the assistance vouchsafed to him as a gracious answer to their united intercessions, and of course they will unite with him in thankful ascriptions of praise.
There is a wonderful power in this fellowship. It is not merely the highest realization and brightest exhibition of God’s great scheme of mercy, but it glorifies his power by binding heaven and earth in one great communion. Whatever sufferings are encountered within the Christian fold, they must necessarily tend to the common welfare. Mighty results, too, will be accomplished in answer to their united prayers, yea, these do for them “exceeding abundantly, above all that they can ask or think.” They may, while in the flesh, be not unfrequently weighed down by infirmities, be misunderstood by one another, and have grounds for mutual offence, but as long as this threefold chain maintains its power, all real discord must finally be removed and all things must work together for their good.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
Luther, 2 Corinthians 1:8 : Paul sometimes exhibits a courage which fears nothing, and despises all danger and agony. But, again, we find this same man, so full of the Holy Ghost, speaking and acting as if he had no spirit at all. The same faith which at one time is great and strong, and full of confidence and joy, is at another small and feeble.—Such are the changes which occur in the life of all the saints, that all may learn to trust not in themselves, but in God alone.
Melancthon, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 : Three things make a theologian: oratio, meditatio, tentatio.
Starke, 2 Corinthians 1:3, (Spener): The holiest part of divine worship is praise; and every Christian should have his heart so pervaded by recollections of God’s merciful dealings, that his mouth shall be always pouring forth ascriptions of praise. Our heavenly Father has shown himself the God of all consolation by making all consolation possible through his Son, and by sending forth the Holy Spirit as a Comforter, to offer us and bestow upon us Christ’s infinite righteousness.—God is not only merciful, but “the Father of mercies,” yea, mercy itself. Where, then, but in him can we find the best consolation when we are disappointed and in trouble? Never, then, should we be at a loss where to find true rest and all-sufficient consolations.—He has a comfort for every one of our numerous afflictions, and he only demands that we should appreciate the riches of his mercy, and freely use it for our consolation.
2 Corinthians 1:4 : It has always been a part of the mystery of the cross to which man’s reason never gets reconciled, that God’s people should be harmless, and yet suffer persecution; and that they should do good, and yet suffer evil. But true light from above enables us to see that from the nature of things it could not be otherwise, and that the members must inevitably share the lot of the great Head.—We should never be satisfied with a personal experience of support under trials. The cross was laid upon us, that we might learn also to sympathize with others, and show others by our example where to find the surest support in seasons of calamity. We should, therefore, observe what affords us consolation under our varied crosses, and carefully preserve it as we would a thoroughly tried medicine; for a time may come when we shall need it not only for ourselves, but for others (Luke 22:32).—Though God is the original and proper Source of consolation, and tenderly sympathizes with his people, as a mother with her child (Isaiah 66:13), he frequently makes use of human instruments, especially faithful preachers and experienced Christians, for the comfort of such as are in distress.—A good shepherd can receive nothing which he will not turn to the advantage of his flock.—The truest kind of consolation is that which not only sustains, but sanctifies the sufferer, and fills his heart and mouth with praise (Psalms 119:32).
2 Corinthians 1:5 : It is in itself a great consolation to know that our sufferings, are Christ’s sufferings, and that he regards as his own whatever befalls his members.—Our cup of anguish is never more overflowing than our cup of consolation; for by a proper use of the means of grace our sufferings become proportionally tokens of our adoption and of our everlasting life (Romans 8:16 f. Philippians 1:19).
2 Corinthians 1:6-7 : When called to suffer severely, be comforted; for if you will look at those godly men who in ancient times were thrown into the furnace of tribulation, you will find that they were abundantly refreshed from above. Doubt not that the Lord will, in like manner, comfort and relieve you! If He counts us worthy to suffer for Christ’s sake, and enables us to obey Him and to be patient, we may be sure that He will sustain us and keep us unto the end. When we feel the burden pressing, relief is surely coming.
2 Corinthians 1:8-9 : Hedinger: God often allows his people to suffer, but only to inflame and stimulate their faith and prayers. He lets them sink where no human arm can reach them, that when they are delivered they may praise Him and not themselves.—He who gives a great blessing may reasonably be relied upon for a smaller: if God has promised to raise the dead, we may surely trust Him in any temporal calamity (Isaiah 59:1).
2 Corinthians 1:10-11 : If we have twice and thrice been in trouble and found deliverance, let us take heart and courage for the future; for the same God yet lives, and will not leave us (1 Samuel 17:37; Deuteronomy 7:18 f.; Job 5:19). He has, however, determined that his help shall be given in answer to prayer and intercession; not merely that we may learn our helplessness and dependence upon Him, but that our faith and love may be exercised, and we may be constrained to praise Him (Psalms 50:15).—If we have known and sympathized with those who are in danger and distress, and have heartily interceded with God for them, we shall more heartily render thanks for their deliverance when our intercessions have been graciously answered.
Berl. Bible, 2 Corinthians 1:3 : To know God as the God of the afflicted is called knowing him truly. Such a name is appropriate to him in relation to such beings as ourselves, and he must bear it unless he is ashamed to be called our God. Great will be the joy of those who know Him in this character. Whoever has learned to praise Him has an all-sufficient treasure, and no one knows Him as he is revealed in his word, who has not learned to receive Him in the midst of distresses and temptations. These are the best laboratories in which God can dispense his grace, and even those who are without will soon experience the benefit of the new power with which we shall address them.
2 Corinthians 1:5 : Who would shrink from suffering, if he knew the proportionate comfort with which it is accompanied, and which he must lose, if he should be excused from bearing the cross? Alas! no wonder that so few ever taste the sweetness of the cross when so few know what it is to have the mind of Christ! If we have no consolation, we naturally struggle against our afflictions, but, until we are quiet and poor in spirit, how can we hear the inward voice of the Comforter ?
2 Corinthians 1:6-7. It is no small consolation to know that we share in the sufferings which come upon even the most approved of Christ’s members (1 Peter 5:9; Revelation 1:9).—Heavenly consolations abound to those whose consciences are thoroughly awakened, who hunger and thirst after them, and who have been emptied of the world.
2 Corinthians 1:8-9 : The Lord sometimes allows his people to be so overwhelmed with sorrows, that created strength is completely overcome, and even those who have borne their burdens with vigor despair even of life; and yet so great are divine consolations that the cross loses all its heaviness, and divine strength is manifested in their weakness. Even the best of them are allowed to experience such trials inasmuch as these spring not from defect in purpose, but from infirmity of nature, that they may learn to build their hopes on God alone. When they have made shipwreck of all things, they are compelled to cling to Him as their last anchor, and to fix their thoughts upon no less a power, even in Him, than that which raises the dead.
2 Corinthians 1:10-11 : As we successively enter upon our seasons of trial, we may say to one another, “It is my turn to-day; tomorrow it will be yours.” We should therefore pray one for another.—“Here is the faith and patience of the saints.” In such a community of loving fellowship, when any member receives a blessing, there are many to lift up their faces in thanksgiving; for every gift is common to them all.—Unbelief beholds only the divine curse upon every one who bears a cross, but true faith says of them, “It is well; it is well!”
Rieger, 2 Corinthians 1:3 ff.: The names of God, as they are revealed in the Scriptures, are each an impregnable fortress, where we may always reverently and confidently find refuge. The highest glories of the Deity become a comfort to us when they are brought down to our lowliness.—Our great High Priest was tempted in all points as we are, that he might have a true sympathy with his people. We need not think it strange, therefore, that every one ordained to the evangelical priesthood should be conducted through every variety of condition, that he may have a fellow feeling for every class of his fellow men. Those only can impart comfort who are experienced in the ways of God, are familiar with the word of God, and are zealous for the honor of God. All others are sure to miss those very consolations which are most sustaining to those whom God’s sword has pierced.
2 Corinthians 1:5 : Troubles for Christ’s sake and for the gospel’s sake are Christ’s own sufferings. Our Lord looks upon them as inflicted upon his own person, and as likening us to Himself.
2 Corinthians 1:6-7 : To share in a brother’s suffering, brings us nearer to his heart, than any external intercourse.
2 Corinthians 1:8-9 : We often flatter ourselves that we or others are of importance, and we promise ourselves and undertake much in reliance upon our strength, but when we begin to despair of life, all such flowerets and blossoms will fall away, and nothing will remain for us but the main trunk of a solid confidence in the living God. This will at such times only grow stronger, and we shall feel that it is all we need.
2 Corinthians 1:10-11 : Many a path which begins in suffering and weeping terminates in thanksgivings and praises. The Lord grant us many such experiences, and if our way has already been darkened by sorrows, may its end be brightened with praises and everlasting life!
Heubner, 2 Corinthians 1:3 : The God of the Bible is one who sympathizes as a father with his children, especially with those who are struggling with difficulties; and never will he allow them to want ample resources for consolation and strength. He will, however, convince them that he is the source of their truest life, and that every thing else is an illusion, and will leave us in a deeper night.
2 Corinthians 1:4 : Of all persons in the world, the minister of Christ should know what true consolation and a cheerful spirit is. Only those who have comfort can impart it. A theologus non tentatus, a minister without an experience of personal trials in religion, lacks an important qualification for his work. The more affliction, the more power he has; and the moment he enters the furnace of affliction, he has a virtual announcement from the Lord, that some great work is before him, and that God is preparing him for higher usefulness. The soldier who is allowed to remain continually around the camp-fire will never learn true bravery.
2 Corinthians 1:6-7 : A minister’s afflictions deepen the impression of his discourses. The admonitions of a veteran general have a power which no young captain can ever have.
W. F. Besser, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 : The fruit of praise which is borne by our troubles is always sweet. Then, when the Redeemed of the Lord are comforted, they praise the Lord for his goodness, etc. Psalms 107:8; Psalms 107:15; Psalms 107:21; Psalms 107:31. Our merciful God and Father in Christ reserves his choicest comforts for his afflicted children, that with the tenderness of a mother (Isaiah 66:13) he may cause them to persevere under every sorrow and conflict with sin and Satan, and, finally, that he may redeem them from the affliction itself.
2 Corinthians 1:5 : The unity between Christ and his members is so perfect that the Apostle gives the name of Christ to the whole Church (1 Corinthians 12:12). The Church’s sufferings, then, are Christ’s in a double sense; for not only does it actually suffer as its Lord’s bride and companion, in opposition to a Christ-hating world (Romans 8:17; Galatians 6:17; Philippians 3:10), but Christ accepts of those sufferings as if they were literally his own. Many, indeed, experience distress and calamity who know nothing of Christian suffering, and of course nothing of Christian consolation, but the truly believing heart knows how to rejoice in the Lord when all human consolation and joy are impossible (Philippians 4:4).
2 Corinthians 1:6 : The fires of persecution which the devil kindles can never consume the church, but only confirm its faith and patience. God’s people have a common partnership both in consolations and sufferings, and in the Scriptures, as Hunnius says, they have a great storehouse of comfort, as they read how apostles and prophets found comfort for themselves, and learned how to comfort their companions in tribulation.
2 Corinthians 1:9 : The true end of faith is unwavering confidence in God, and when she has her own way all self-confidence must be renounced.—God’s almighty power and cordial love of life is shown in his raising even the dead to life (Romans 4:17; Hebrews 11:17). He will of course deliver his people when he pleases from death.
2 Corinthians 1:11 : The Spirit freely helpeth our infirmities when we pray, and especially when in the spirit of our common priesthood (Matthew 18:19) we intercede unitedly for those who particularly entreat us to plead for them.—So precious a thing is thanksgiving, and especially united thanksgiving, that the Apostle makes the ultimate object of God in granting our prayers to be the obtaining of our thanks.
[In this whole passage we have, I. A Christian’s afflictions.—These may be 1. very severe, “above measure” (2 Corinthians 1:8), a “sentence of death” (2 Corinthians 1:9), and “so great a death” (2 Corinthians 1:10). 2. They are always under divine allotment, (“that we should not trust, ” etc., 2 Corinthians 1:9). II. Their beneficial uses, as a school of experience, for promoting, 1. Comfort. This is, from God as their proper source (2 Corinthians 1:3), proportioned to the affliction (2 Corinthians 1:5) and to increase our usefulness (2 Corinthians 1:4; 2 Corinthians 1:6); 2. Confidence, by throwing us upon our consciences (2 Corinthians 1:12), by driving us from ourselves to the living God (2 Corinthians 1:9), by imparting hope for the future (2 Corinthians 1:10), and by strengthening our hopes for others (2 Corinthians 1:7); 3. Sympathy inasmuch as they open our hearts to our brethren (2 Corinthians 1:8), lead all to prayer and thanksgiving for one another (2 Corinthians 1:11) and to mutual joy in the day of the Lord Jesus. Comp. F. W. Robertson’s Lectt. on Corr. Lect. xxxiv.]
2 Corinthians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 1:1.—The collocation of the words: Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ has better authority in its favor here than it has in 1 Corinthians 1:1 but Paul appears uniformly to have put Χριστοῦ before Ἰησοῦ immediately after ἀπόστολος or δοῦλος, in accordance with the natural train of thought: the messenger of the Messiah, the divinely commissioned King.
[At some time between the conquest of Greece by the Romans and the reign of Augustus (B. C. 169–147), the whole region south of Thessaly and Epirus, nearly co-extensive with the modern kingdom of Greece, became a single province of the Empire under the name of Achaia. After the strong expression of the pro-consul’s, and the Gentiles’ disapprobation of the accusations made against Paul (Acts 18:0), he appears to have labored freely and with such success in the whole province of Achaia, that a number of churches were established in it (comp. 1 Thessalonians 1:8; 2 Thessalonians 1:4). Smith’s Dict. art. Achaia, Conyb. and Howson, vol. 1, p. 416, chap, 12. A. R. Fausset in Port. Com., vol. 2, p. 316. If, however, we recollect the general contents and aim of this Epistle, we may well doubt (with Osiander) whether we ought not here to take the word Achaia in the narrower sense which it sometimes even then bore and which is almost certain in 1 Corinthians 16:15 (comp. Acts 18:1.)]
2 Corinthians 1:7; 2 Corinthians 1:7.—The Rec. altogether without authority makes καὶ ἡ ἐλπις ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν follow immediately the second παρακλ. καἰ σωτηρίας. Bengel, Griesbach and Meyer let τῆς ἐνεργ.—ὐπὲρ ὑπμῶν follow immediately after the second παρακλἡσεως. Lachmann and Tischendorf, (whom Osiander follows) place τῆς ἐνεργουμένης—ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν directly after the first παρακλ. καί σωτηρίας, though Lachmann includes [καὶ σωτηρίας] in brackets as suspected. See exeget. notes. [The reading of the Rec. has generally been ascribed to Erasmus who, in his 2nd edit, of the Greek Test., must have obtained it by combining several Latin versions with some Greek MSS., since no single Greek MS. has been found which gives exactly his reading. Having been received from him by Beza (in his 3rd, 4th and 5th editions), and by the Elzevir, it passed into our early German and English versions. Of course, it has no documentary authority. The reading of Bengel and Griesbach was that which Erasmus and Beza had adopted in their first editions, and it is sustained by A. C. M. Sinait., and other less important uncial MSS. together with the Syr., Copt., Aeth., Arm., and a number of the Vulg. and Old Italic versions. The reading of Lachmann and Tischendorf (7th ed.) has been adopted by de Wette, Olshausen, Bloomfield, Alford, Osiander, Conybeare, Wordsworth, Stanley and Hodge, and is sustained by B. D. E. F. G. K. and L., by numerous cursives, the Syro-Phylox., and the Gothic versions, and by Chrysost., Theodt., Damasc., Theophyl., Œcum. (though some of these insert καὶ σωτηείας before τῆς ἐνεργουμένς, etc.). Meyer thinks that Griesbach’s was the original form of the text, but that the copyist easily passed from the first to the second παρακλῆσεως, omitting all between them, and that an emendation was then attempted by introducing the omitted words later in the sentence. Bloomfield’s conjecture is much more natural and scientific, viz., that Lachmann’s reading being more difficult was more likely to have been amended, to avoid the interruption of the antithesis between ἔιτε θλιβομεθα, etc. and ἔιτε παρακαλούμεθα, etc., by the clause καὶ ὴ ἐλπῖς—ὑμῶν, and that those who transposed the clause τῆς ἐνεργ.—πἀσχομεν, make the Apostle absurdly assert that his readers would be consoled by enduring the same sufferings with himself, instead of saying that his affliction and consolation were calculated to profit them. Stanley suggests, that in this whole section the force of the thoughts depends on rendering παρακαλεῖν, and its derivatives, by the same corresponding words in English. We, therefore, use the word “comfort” throughout].
2 Corinthians 1:7; 2 Corinthians 1:7.—The ὥσπερ of the Rec. is not as well sustained [as ὡς, which has in its favor A. B. C. D. E. Sinait., et al., and as Tisch. observes: “ὥσπερ substitutum videtur ut planius esset cum ἕστε, etc., non arctius cum κοινωνοὶ conjungendum esse.”].
2 Corinthians 1:8; 2 Corinthians 1:8.—For the first ὑπὲρ Lachm. reads περὶ. and he is sustained by A. C. D. E. F. G. Sinait., et al., and followed by Meyer and Stanley, but Tischendorf, Bloomfield, Wordsworth and Alford retain ὑπἐρ as the more difficult reading. [See Webster’s Synt. and Synn. of the Gr. Test., p. 172].
2 Corinthians 1:8; 2 Corinthians 1:8.—Lachm., following the preponderance of authorities, throws out ἡμῖν from the text. [It is rejected as a superfluous gloss to γενομἐνης by Meyer and Alford, Wordsworth and Stanley according to A. B. C. D. F. G. and Sinait., but it is retained by Tischendorf and Bloomfield, and is suspected by Griesbach].
2 Corinthians 1:8; 2 Corinthians 1:8.—On the authority of A. B. C. [Sinait.], et al., Lachmann puts ὑπὲρ (some put παρὰ) δύναμιν before ἐβαρήθημεν. [Alford and Stanley (as usual) agree with Lachm., but Tischendorf, Bloomfield and Wordsworth, sustained by a few uncials and a number of the best versions and fathers, agree with the Receptus].
2 Corinthians 1:10; 2 Corinthians 1:10.—B. C. [and Sinait.] have καὶ ῥύσεται. Others omit it. It is probably a change of the ῥύεται by a mistake for the form in the following clause, and then it would naturally be thrown out as superfluous, or be left out through oversight. [Tisch., Meyer, Bloomf. and Words, have καὶ ῥύεται, Lachm. and Stanley have καὶ ῥύσεται, but in brackets; and Alford contends that these last words would not be superfluous, since they would look “to the immediate future, while καί ἔτι ῥύσεται would look to the continuance of help in distant and uncertain time”].
2 Corinthians 1:11; 2 Corinthians 1:11.—The Var. ὑμῶν is not sufficiently sustained, [and yet it is adopted by Tischendorf (7th ed.) and Reiche, and it has the authority of the revised Vat., the Sinait., Clarom (2d cor.), et al., and no small support of versions and Fathers].
III.—THE APOSTLES VINDICATION OF HIS CONDUCT IN GENERAL, AND OF HIS EPISTLES AND JOURNEYS IN PARTICULAR (2 Corinthians 1:12-24)
2 Corinthians 1:12-24
12For our rejoicing [glorying] is this, the testimony of our10 conscience, that in simplicity [holiness]11 and godly12 sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward. 13For we write none other things unto you, than13 what ye read or acknowledge; and I trust ye shall acknowledge even14 to the end; 14as also ye have acknowledged us in part, that we are your rejoicing [glorying], even as ye also are ours in the day of the Lord15 Jesus. 15And in this confidence I was minded to come unto you before16 [before unto you], that ye might have17 a second benefit; 16and to pass18 by you into Macedonia, and to come again out of Macedonia unto you, and of you to be brought on my way toward Judea. 17When I therefore was thus minded,19 did I use lightness? or the things that I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, that with me there should be 18yea, yea, and nay, nay? But as God is true [faithful], our word toward you was [is]20 not yea and nay.7 19For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timotheus, was not yea and nay, but in him was yea. 20For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him21 Amen [For how many soever may be the promises of God, in Him is the yea; wherefore also through him is the Amen], unto the glory of God by us. 21Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; 22who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest 23of the Spirit in our hearts. Moreover [But] I call God for a record [witness] upon my soul, that [it was] to spare you [that] I came not as yet [no more] unto Corinth. 24Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
In that which the Apostle has thus far said we may notice an apologetical element. He had spoken of those troubles which his Judaizing opponents represented as a token of the divine displeasure. He had implied that these were so far from being such a token and a reason for the withdrawal of confidence from him, that they were rather an indication of his fellowship with Christ and a reasonable ground for an affectionate communion between him and the church. But in whatever way we regard the preceding verses, the Apostle’s vindication of himself evidently commences with this section, though it is in intimate connection with what he had just taken for granted, viz., that they were sufficiently interested in him to assist him by their intercessions. He now gives them to understand that he was justified in such an assumption, for he was not unworthy of their sympathies and their prayers. Such is the connection which we infer from the γάρ.
2 Corinthians 1:12. For Our rejoicing is this.—The word καύχησις, as it is used in 1 Corinthians 15:31, and frequently in this Epistle, is not equivalent to καύχημα: that of which one makes his boast, for it signifies rather the act of boasting, the external expression of joyful confidence. It here relates to the whole moral conduct of the Apostle, as Bengel has it: even in seasons of adversity and in his conduct towards his opponents. The inward feeling of which it is the outward expression is the testimony of our conscience, to which it is emphatically directed by αὕτη. The word συνείδησις (here rendered conscience) is found also in 1 Corinthians 8:7; 1 Corinthians 10:25 et al. It is here closely connected with the objective sentence:—that in holiness and godly sincerity, we have had our conversation in the world.—Ἀναστρεφέσθαι occurs here and in Ephesians 2:3; 1 Timothy 3:16; Heb 12:18; 1 Peter 1:17; 2 Peter 2:18. In the Sept. of Proverbs 20:7, it is used as a rendering for הִתְהַלֵּךְ, and signifies the conduct, the way in which one acts. By ἐν is indicated the path in which the movement takes place, and which determines and directs the mode of action referred to. If we accept of ἁγιότης as the true reading, the idea will be that of a religious purity, arising from an unreserved surrender of the heart to God. On account of the numerous and independent critical authorities in its favor, and because ἁγιότης has too general a meaning in connection with εἰλικρίνεία, and might have been suggested by τοῦ θεοῦ etc., Osiander gives the preference to ἁπλότης signifying a freedom from all irrelevant and private views, i. e., a plain single mind. Εἰλικρίνεία τοῦ θεοῦ, godly sincerity, is either a purity like that which is in God, or one which comes from him or is wrought by him in those who submit themselves to him. Τοῦ θεοῦ designates the source and the consequent resemblance. The idea of being acceptable to God necessarily follows from this, but it is not strictly contained in the expression. Still less does it signify what is demanded by God, and least of all what is superior, as if it were merely a superlative. The subjoined antithetic definition of the same idea:—not in carnal wisdom, but in the grace of God,—more precisely explains what is meant by ἐν ἁγιότης. The σοφία σαρκικὴ (1 Corinthians 1:20 σοφ. τοῦ κόσμου; 1 Corinthians 2:5 σοφ. ἀνθρώπων 1 Corinthians 2:6 τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου) forms in this passage a contrast on the one hand, to the holiness and godly sincerity, and the εἰλικρίνεια τοῦ θεοῦ, and on the other, to the grace of God. This last phrase signifies God’s free grace; in which, however, is included a surrender and communication of his own infinite self with all the blessings of salvation; just as the holiness and the sincerity had involved a power which moved and directed the Apostle from within himself.—In contrast with this divine disposition, is presented that impure fleshly wisdom which belongs to our sensuous and selfish nature, and which inclines us to pursue our own enjoyment, profit, honor or applause, and hence leads us off into inconsistent courses of conduct. Osiander thinks that here is also an allusion to that theoretical kind of σοφία (1 Corinthians 1:3) which made use of the various artificial methods supplied by the Rhetoric and Logic of that period to gain influence over the minds of men. Theophylact: “words of stirring eloquence, and twistings of sophistries.”] But evidently a more practical kind of worldly wisdom was then uppermost in the Apostle’s mind.—The sphere of the conversation is the world, which, according to Meyer, is the profane portion of men, inasmuch as the Apostle’s object was to make his holy walk more prominent by the contrast. We may certainly regard the non-christian element in society as intended, in distinction from the churches, which were represented here by the Corinthians (πρὸς ὑμᾶς). Περισσοτέρως (more abundantly) has reference to a higher degree, and not to a higher quality. Πρὀς ὑμᾶς has the sense of: in intercourse with you, and it is therefore equivalent to, with you; Neander: “with reference to you. We may conclude from this verse that his opponents had charged him with practising a spurious kind of worldly wisdom, which indicated a lack of uprightness of heart.”—W. F. Besser: “Not as if his Christian intercourse with them had been characterized by any thing extraordinary, or beyond what he had shown in other places. He intended simply to say: “If there are any to whom I have not been manifest as a single-hearted and sincere minister of Christ, surely it cannot be you (1 Corinthians 9:2), for where in all the world have I been more completely known than among you?”
2 Corinthians 1:13-14. For we write none other things unto you—He now confirms his avowal that he had been sincere in his treatment of them, so far as relates to his Epistles. He probably has reference to the suspicions which his opponents had awakened, that his language meant something very different from that which they seemed to mean to an unsuspicious reader.—The full and well at tested reading ἀλλ̓ ἡ ἁ, equivalent to ἡ ἅ or ἀλλ’ ἄ, is a blending together of two constructions: οὐκ άλλ̓—ή and οὐκ —ἀλλὰ (comp. Meyer) [Jelf. Gram. § 773. Obs. 1–3].—But we are writing;—He here refers (as in 1 Corinthians 5:11) to that which he was then writing, and to the meaning which it properly conveyed: we have no other meaning in what we have written than what you yourselves read, and what is the literal signification of the language before the eye of the reader.—No other things unto you than what ye read, or indeed acknowledge.—The words or acknowledge, refer to what they had known, in other ways, of what he then meant. There is no need of an artificial distinction between ἀναγινώσκειν in the sense of recognoscere, and ἑπιγινώσκειν in the sense of agnoscere (Calvin), a distinction which is, moreover, opposed to the uniform usage of ἀναγινώσκειν in the New Testament.23—In the succeeding clause another object of discussion is introduced. It is to be derived not from the preceding ἅ, as if it were equivalent to all that the Apostle in his sincerity had performed and suffered among them (Osiander), but it comes before us in the form of a distinct proposition, viz.: that we are your rejoicing. This sentence grammatically depends upon ἐπιγνώσεσθε [as that which they should continue to acknowledge unto the end], and not upon the intervening clause with which it might be connected according to the sense. The words might indeed be taken as a causal sentence, giving a reason for what is said in the previous clause (comp. Osiander), but the logical connection would certainly be less forcible.—The phrase, unto the end, means, as in 1 Corinthians 1:8, and Hebrews 3:6, the absolute end of all things, and not merely the Apostle’s close of life. In part, in the intermediate clause, expresses a limitation, not in opposition to unto the end, nor with respect to the recognition itself, as if equivalent to in some degree; but with respect to the persons recognizing, implying that only a part of the Church recognized him in his true character. This is the only view which accords with the facts. A reproach would not have been here appropriate. Καύχημα occurs in 1 Corinthians 5:6; 1 Corinthians 9:15 f. In the day of the Lord Jesus, belongs to the principal proposition, but requires also to be joined to the incidental clause. He meant to express his confidence that they would steadfastly acknowledge that he was indeed the object of their glorying, and would continue to be so even to the last day, when teachers and churches shall stand before the great Chief Shepherd, and when all events and the way in which they have been brought about shall be open to inspection. He had no doubt that they would point with joyful triumph to him as the one through whom they and so many others had been brought to Christ, and to all the enjoyments and honors which have been derived from him, as the one to whom they owed their spiritual life with all its benefits and dignities; just as he on his side even then pointed to them as the honorable fruit of his labors (Comp. 1 Corinthians 9:1 s; 2 Corinthians 1:8; Philippians 2:16; 1 Thessalonians 2:19).
2 Corinthians 1:15-20. Having thus drawn their hearts to a firmer confidence in him and to withstand more successfully the influence of his opponents, the Apostle now proceeds to repel the charge of inconsistency and fickleness which had been made against him because he had changed the plan of his journey in coming to them.—And in this confidence I was minded before to come unto you.—Most recent commentators refer the πεποίθησις (confidence, trust) to what has been expressed in ἐλπίζω, &c.; as if he was intending to say that under the influence of this confidence in their steadfast recognition of his true relation to them, he had at first formed the design to pay them a visit, &c.—Some would draw the πρότερον into immediate connection with ἐβουλόμην [q. d. I was before minded], but not only would this be incoherent in itself, since he was yet desirous of this thing, but it would also be unsuitable to δευτέραν χάριν.—The position of the words πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἐλθεῖν, by which ὑμας is more properly contrasted with Macedonia, is attested by good authorities.—This had been the Apostle’s original intention, but it had been given up as early as when he wrote his first Epistle. Comp. 1 Corinthians 16:5. This alteration of his plan had become known to the Corinthians either by letter or by personal conversation, and it had been represented to them as an evidence of his general fickleness of character. Hence the propriety of this defence of himself. That ye might have a second benefit.—He here refers to what had been the object of his original plan.—Every visit he might make to them would be the occasion of many blessings, and would manifest the divine favor toward them. Had he visited them a second time, his presence with them would have been a second grace. Such had been his aim when he formed that earlier plan, the only motive of which they might see in the confidence he had just expressed. And now when he declares that that confidence always animated him and had prompted such a friendly purpose, he implies that no thought of a misconstruction of his motives could have crossed his mind when he changed his plan. Χάρις (grace or favor) has not the same meaning with χαρά, (as some would have the original read, signifying joy, or a new delight which his visit would give), nor does it signify an exhibition of human favor, but it is equivalent to χάρισμα πνευματικόν (a spiritual gift) in Romans 1:11 (comp. Romans 15:29). The meaning δευτέραν is not the same here as that of διπλῆν would have been. We need not suppose that his first residence in Corinth, or his first Epistle is referred to as the first grace, for the context (2 Corinthians 1:16) shows evidently what he had in view, and this seems inconsistent with the otherwise probable hypothesis that πρότερον implies that the Apostle had been at Corinth since his first residence there. In 2 Corinthians 1:16 we have more definite information regarding this earlier plan, and light is thrown also upon what is meant by their receiving a second benefit, but we are not therefore to conclude that this latter expression stands out of its proper place.—With respect to his being sent on his way, consult 1 Corinthians 16:6.—Τοῦτο, in 2 Corinthians 1:17, has reference to the earlier plan which had been spoken of in 2 Corinthians 1:15 f. He is meeting the objection which had been raised against him on account of his change of purpose. The amount of this objection was, that he could not have reflected sufficiently upon his plan and the way in which he was to accomplish it,, and so that he became guilty of light-mindedness; or that if he had really intended to visit them, he either could not have been very strenuous in carrying out his purpose, and so had changed his mind without sufficient reasons, or he had not much regard to his promiss. That such an objection had been made to him, in fact, is not to be inferred, perhaps, from the article τῇ, as if this referred to the particular lightness which had been imputed to him, for this may also be pointed to the levity which would generally be suspected in such cases.—Did I use lightness.—Ἐλαφρία (lightness) is found nowhere else in the New Testament, although the adjective occurs twice (2 Corinthians 4:17 and Matthew 11:30), but not with an ethical signification. Χρῆσθαι, when used with reference to moral states or qualities, means to have a hand in, to be occupied with, to enter upon, some business, and is equivalent to: behaving or conducting one’s self in a certain manner. Ἄρα, in an interrogative sentence, implies that the inquirer will wait for an answer (well, really! indeed! comp. [Jelf. Gr. Gram., § 873, 2.] Passow I., 377), and hence indicates necessarily no logical deduction (a consequence from this state of thing.). The second question,—or the things which I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh?—is either coordinated with the first (in which case ἤ is equivalent to aut), or subordinated to it (ἤ having the force of an), and implying that the contrary would lead to an absurdity: “if, then, you would not charge me with levity, you must suppose that I form my purposes according to the flesh” (Meyer). This subordination would agree very well with the explanation which refers ἐχρησάμην to the purpose itself; but the coördination would suit best the interpretation which refers that word rather to the carrying out of the purpose, and introduces here the additional point respecting the improper spirit shown in the formation of the purpose. And yet this last is probably the more correct meaning. Κατὰ σάρκα however, refers to that which determines the mind when it is coming to a decision, or it is the same as to say that the conclusion was reached in the way in which the σάρξ usually determines us, i. e., in a carnal manner. The real meaning would be essentially the same on either interpretation. The opposite of this is: κατὰ πνε͂υμα. Where the spirit controls a man in all his conduct, the sole object of his consultations and conclusions is the honor, the kingdom and the will of God, but where the σάρξ (i. e., the nature of man, when it is confined to the pursuit of external and selfish objects), controls his decisions, nothing will be regarded but outward relations, selfish inclinations, personal interests, or something to accommodate, please, profit, or flatter himself.—A spiritual mind always makes a man decided, consistent, true to himself, and uniform in all his conduct; but a carnal mind makes him uncertain in all his ways, and involves him in many contradictory courses. This necessary result, the Apostle presents as if it were the object of the person’s design or aim, ἵνα ᾗ &c. If we follow the correct reading ναὶ ναὶ—ὄυ ὄυ (the Vulgate and some other verss. have simply ναι—ὄυ), the second ναὶ and ὄυ might belong to the predicate: that the yea with me should be yea, and the nay should be nay (comp. James 5:12); and the whole might refer to an obstinate and presumptuous course of conduct, in which a man adheres to his determination, and resolves that his yea shall remain yea, and his nay shall continue nay. The idea would thus be that he will never change his mind, whether he had resolved upon a yea or a nay, a promise or a refusal, a doing or a declining to do something. But, according to the context, the objection the Apostle was here meeting was not so much to his consistent obstinacy as to his inconsistent fickleness. The double form of ναί, ναί and οὔ, οὔ is merely to give additional force to the simple form in 2 Corinthians 1:18, as in Matthew 5:37. The predicate is either, should be with us also, nay, nay; i. e. the yea, yea, may become with us nay, nay; that is, the purpose or the promise may change about into just the opposite according to convenience; or (better) merely should be with us; in which case καὶ has the ordinary sense of, and:—that there should be with me the yea, yea, and the nay, nay.—[Chrysostom forcibly gives the objection which is met by the Apostle in this passage (2 Corinthians 1:18-22) thus: “If when you promised to come to us, you failed to do so, and your yea is not yea, nor your nay nay; but what you say now you change afterwards, as you have done in regard to your coming to us, woe to us lest this also should be the case with your preaching! In order, therefore, that they might not think thus, he assures them that God was faithful, and that His word to them was not yea and nay; for in his preaching such changes could not happen, but only in his travels and journeyings.] Their objection must then have been that the Apostle had both these intentions together and at the same time, and hence that he could not be depended upon, was equivocal, self-contradictory, and took back at one time what he had just before promised (not as Olshausen arbitrarily assumes, that truth and falsehood were blended together).
Very different from all this was the actual conduct of the Apostle toward them, based as it was upon motives of the highest love and wisdom, 2 Corinthians 1:23.—As God is faithful, our word towards you is not yea and nay.—He here proceeds in the first place to meet the objection in a very solemn but lively manner (2 Corinthians 1:18), introducing his assertion with a δέ (which, however, has not the force of μᾶλλον δέ, as if he would give a still further denial to the question). Πιστὸς δὲ ὁ θεός, ὅτι, &c., may here be taken either as saying that God’s fidelity was the reason he ventured to assert such a consistency for himself, i. e. he asserted such things of himself because God was faithful—God is faithful in this (εἰς τοῦτο), and this fact makes it impossible that we should speak in this uncertain manner among you (Meyer)—or, as a solemn protestation: as surely as God is true, our word toward you, etc. de Wette, Osiander). The former seems harsh, and is not grammatically confirmed by a reference to John 9:17, where ὅτι has the force of: because, since. Πιστὸς ὁ θεός may be a form of solemn affirmation as well as ἔστιν ͂υ ἐν ἐμοί in 2 Corinthians 9:10, and it goes probably on the assumption that God was a witness. Comp. Romans 1:9; Php 1:8; 1 Thessalonians 2:5. He thus brings forward the fidelity (reliableness) of God as a security for the reliableness of his own λόγος. But what does he mean by this λόγος? Does it refer to his promise to visit them, or to his discourses generally, i. e. to everything he had said to them in any way? or finally does it refer to his doctrines and public instructions (κήρυγμα)?24 We are decidedly in favor of the last for the reason assigned in the next verse, in which the Apostle maintains that his instructions must be perfectly reliable because they consisted of truths which were incontrovertible and irresistible. Neander: “Every way in which he held intercourse with the Corinthians, his instructions as a whole.” But such an assertion of the credibility of his teaching should have an influence also to ward off those accusations which had been made against those decisions which related to his official work (such as his apostolical journeys), just as these latter had created a prejudice against his teachings.
For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us (2 Corinthians 1:19).—[“In place of the preaching he here puts Him who was preached (metonomy); and says that the doctrine concerning the Son of God which he and Silvanus and Timotheus had preached contained no discrepancies, nor did they at one time preach this and at another time that, but they brought forward always the same doctrine.” Theodoret]. Τοῦ θεοῦ, according to the true reading, precedes γὰρ, and thus becomes emphatic, in order to give prominence to the Divine part of the subject of their preaching. It evidently has reference to what had been said in 2 Corinthians 1:18, respecting ὁ θεός. Κηρυχθείς relates to the preaching by which they had been at first brought to believe in Christ. He describes this as the common testimony of the three organs of Divine revelation who had been associated at that time (Acts 18:5). It should not, however, be supposed that the Christ thus preached signifies the same thing as the preaching of Christ, for then γὰρ would serve only to introduce an explanation or further exposition of what had been said in 2 Corinthians 1:18. Comp. 2 Corinthians 1:20. [In describing “the Son of God, Jesus Christ,” the epithets are accumulated “to express the greatness of Him whom they preached, and so to aggravate the impossibility of His connection with any littleness or levity.” Stanley]. Of Him, as he had been preached among the Corinthians, the Apostle says: he was not made yea and nay, but has been made yea in him; i. e., He has proved Himself among you as among others, not an untruthful, untrustworthy and ambiguous personage, saying yea and nay at the same time; but one in whom an everlasting yea, a pure, steadfast affirmation might always be found (comp. Hebrews 13:8; Revelation 3:14). “The whole Old Testament revelation has proved to be true by means of the Christ who has been preached among you. And yet, what is thus true of the objective Christ, must be applied with equal truth to the word preached respecting him.” Neander. [The verb here used, γέγονεν, signifies not mere existence, but a transition from one state, or character, or condition, to another (Webster’s Synn. of the Gr. Test., p. 199). Being in the perfect tense, it implies that the change spoken of is not only completed, but that the result of it is conceived of as permanent (Winer, § 41, 4). It hath become yea, and it remains yea in Him forever. My plans and purposes may change, but the subject of my preaching remains the same under every mutation of its preachers].
The more particular declaration and reason assigned in the next verse shows that what had just been asserted had reference to the experience, not merely of the Corinthians, (who had been spoken of in the phrase, preached among you), but of Christians in general; For however numerous may be the promises of God (in the Old Testament), in Him is the yea, (i. e., the affirmation of them, 2 Corinthians 1:20); inasmuch as they are actually fulfilled in Him or He secures their fulfilment in the future. By means of His person and work, the certainty of all God’s promises has been practically confirmed (comp. Romans 15:8; John 1:17; Acts 3:21). To this external confirmation in Christ, corresponds the Amen, which is not added merely to strengthen the yea (as the Rec. would make it), but it expresses the unanimous assent which believers yield to the objective truth, the confession they make with respect to the actual fulfilment everywhere taking place at the time, with an allusion also to the Amen which the primitive Christians were in the habit of responding in their public assemblies. Even this confession is by means of Christ, for inasmuch as the fulfilment itself takes place in Him, the confession must be drawn from believers by Him through our means to the glory of God. Or: all God’s promises are yea in Christ’s person and work, i. e., in His name, as it is proclaimed in the Gospel, and are Amen in the Church which confesses His name (Besser).—The words δἰ ἡμῶν [through or by means of us] might possibly be referred to believers in general, but the context more naturally connects them with those only, who are Christ’s ministers; and the Amen is either the joyful and believing testimony of such ministers, or (more correctly and more strictly conformed to the usage with respect to ἀμήν), the public expression of confidence which all believers gave. The phrase to the glory of God by us is in apposition with that which precedes it, and signifies, that which glorifies God by our means, i. e., when we who proclaim the Gospel are the instruments of producing the confidence thus expressed (Meyer).—The article is placed before ναί and ἀμὴν in 2 Corinthians 1:20, because the yea has here acquired a definite position with respect to the ἐπαγγελίαι. There is no necessity of supplying a subject for the affirmation in this yea (as e. g. in ἀλλὰ ναὶ ἐν αὐτῷ γέγονεν), nor of understanding by it that which He (i. e., Christ) has affirmed (the preceding yea), but it is itself the subject. [Bengel: Christ preached, i. e., our preaching of Christ became yea in Christ Himself]. [Obviously, then, the Apostle would argue, there could be no variableness in the subject (λόγος) of His preaching, since God who gave it was faithful, and Christ who is its substance is the same in all ages, however the promises respecting Him might vary. The whole revelation of Christ, whether in Old Testament writing or in the preaching of the Apostle and his companions, had been one everlasting affirmation from God to men like a mighty yea poured forth from heaven through all generations. He was then, had been, and ever would be the same (Exodus 3:14; John 8:58). Even in the experience of those to whom the Apostle was writing, this was manifest, for they were accustomed in all their assemblies to join with believers of every age and country in responding their hearty Amen to the instructions and worship of the Church. Thus the earth’s Amen responded to heaven’s yea in Christ]. In 2 Corinthians 1:20, ἐπαγγελίαι refers to the promises not of the New, but of the Old Testament, such as the Apostle speaks of in Galatians 3:16 ff. and Romans 4:13; to the promise of salvation in all its clear details, and not merely to that of the Holy Spirit.—Even with the reading given in the Recep.: καὶ ἐν αὐτῷ τὸ (retained by Osiander, with Tischendorf and Reiche), we need no other explanation than that we have just given. We shall not need to refer the yea to the God who promises and the Amen to the Christ in whom the promises are fulfilled (Beza); nor to regard the Amen as an expression of what is complete truth, i. e., an idea expressed in two languages (as in the case of Abba, Father), with reference to both Jewish and Gentile Christians; nor yet to make the Amen God’s seal to man’s Amen, i. e., to the confidence they thus expressed (?) (Osiander). Even on the supposition that the Amen refers to the subjective confidence of believers, it would not be inconsistent with the Apostle’s aim to set forth the complete objective certainty of the Divine promises, secured as they were in all their strength through Christ, and so forming a basis on which he could claim confidence for himself. That internal confidence which the Corinthians had yielded to his preaching, and which they had openly confessed, was a sufficient proof of his trustworthiness as an Apostle. Neander: “In this way he met in the most effectual manner the suspicions which his opponents had cast upon his instructions, by appealing to the experience which the Corinthians had received of the power of Divine grace through Christ upon their hearts.” But after all the arguments which have been urged against the reading, διὸ καὶ δἰ αὐτοῦ we do not regard them as of sufficient weight to induce us to set it aside, or to give us entire confidence in that of the Recepta. [The sense of the two readings is somewhat different. By Lachmann’s reading (preferred by Calvin and most of the ancient expositors), it is asserted, that, however various God’s promises might be, their yea was in Christ, and hence that the Amen which expresses human experience must be in Him also. According to this, not only do the promises receive their confirmation in Christ, but we experience and assent to their truth. By the common reading the Apostle simply asserts, that the promises had received their verification, (their yea and Amen), in Christ. Certainly the tenor of the Apostle’s argument is most strengthened by the former reading].
2 Corinthians 1:21-22. [One thought still lingers in the Apostle’s mind, which he must express before he returns to his personal defence (comp. Stanley)]. The firm faith which Christ had effected, and which had brought such glory to God by means of the preaching of the Gospel, he now traces back to its ultimate author (2 Corinthians 1:20).—Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God.—In the first place he represents God as firmly establishing, so far as related to Christ (1 Corinthians 1:6), not only those who preached the Gospel, but those who had been brought by them to the Christian faith. The former he had enabled to preach Christ in such a way as to deserve and to secure the confidence of their fellow-men; and the latter he had induced to exercise a steadfast faith, and to hold forth an unshaken confession of the truth. In the next place he presents God as anointing the Apostle and his assistants; that is, as bestowing upon them that spiritual inspiration which was needful for their duties. [There is certainly nothing in the mere language or grammatical construction which intimates that he associated all Christians with these inspired teachers in the enjoyment of these blessings. In the confirmation (βεβαιῶν), indeed, he expressly includes the Corinthians to whom he was writing, and this is spoken of as an event which was then (present participle) taking place. But with an almost evident design he extends this participation to none of the remaining facts (the anointing, the sealing and the earnest of the Spirit), which are represented as having taken place (aorist participles) once for all at an earlier period (probably when the Apostles and the other teachers were consecrated to their public offices, and when, of course, the Corinthians were unconverted). As we know that miraculous gifts had been conferred upon the Corinthians, a special reason may have existed for applying the confirmation alone to them (σὺν ὑμῖν). And yet it must be conceded, that nothing in the nature of either of these benefits, so far as they are known to us, would necessarily limit their application to any class of believers. Even if the unction in 1 John 2:20; 1 John 2:27 be explained of a miraculous endowment, it would be difficult to give such an interpretation to Ephesians 1:13 f. Dr. Hodge also calls attention to the fact, that when an official anointing is spoken of in the New Testament, it is only in relation to Christ and never with reference to the Apostles or other preachers, whereas all believers are said to receive the more ordinary unction of the Holy Spirit. The ancient expositors (Chrysostom, Theodoret and Ambrosiaster) attached much importance to this passage as a special description of the privileges of all believers as the anointed prophets, priests and kings of God. On the whole, although we must grant that the Apostle has expressly limited the anointing, the sealing and the earnest of the Spirit to himself and his fellow-laborers in their official capacity, and the confirmation to them and the Corinthians, we see nothing in the endowments themselves or in the analogy of similar passages, which should prevent us from giving these expressions a much more extensive application, since they refer to those spiritual benefits which are promised to all Christians as well as their public teachers.] With respect to the anointing (κρίσας), comp. John 2:20-25, where the unction of believers (κρῖσμα) is spoken of; and Luke 4:18; Acts 4:27; Acts 10:38; Hebrews 1:9. Preachers of the Gospel should be imitators of Christ, and this they can be only as they partake of the Divine Spirit (official grace).—The δὲ indicates that an additional subject is introduced, for it is here metabatic (or transitional), and not adversative. The phrase εἰς Χριστόν has in this place the sense of: in respect to Christ, or, in the direction of Christ, and not of: within or in Christ. The former signification is undoubtedly the simplest, but the representation of the Apostle requires that we should conceive of the union with Christ as a continuous and progressive one, and it may be doubted whether εἰς will bear such an interpretation. Σὺν ὑμῖν (with you) is used here, not merely to conciliate the good will of the readers (Meyer, Osiander), but it enters much more essentially into the course of the argument. W. F. Besser:—“He takes the Corinthians themselves for his witnesses, from their own experience, that the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ makes the course of His people sure by the Holy Spirit.”—It would be altogether inappropriate and even contradictory to the spirit of the text to suppose that the Apostle had here a collateral reference to those who affected to regard him as a reed shaken, by the wind (Rückert).—In the second and in the next succeeding ἡμᾶς the Apostle does not include his readers with himself, for in the previous part of the sentence he had expressly distinguished ἡμᾶς from them, and had made it refer exclusively to himself and his fellow laborers.—The anointing refers not merely to the original vocation but to the subsequent spiritual endowment of the persons spoken of. The expression [paronomasia] intimates that there was a resemblance between the anointed ones and Him who was in a preeminent sense the Anointed One. Neander: “As it was customary to transfer every predicate of the Old Testament Theocracy, in a spiritual sense, to Christianity, we have the chrism which was used in the consecration of priests and kings applied to the spiritual consecration of the Christian by the presence of the Holy Spirit in his heart. The reference is to the consecration of all believers to the general priesthood.”—It is rather an overstraining of the word when it is made (Bengel) to imply a communication both of strength and of fragrancy (2 Corinthians 2:15); or, in addition to this, the clear and accurate discernment of truth, which was sometimes given from above, and which made its recipients inaccessible to all forms of error and falsehood (comp. 1 John 2:27); or some character indelibilis in the evangelical sense, a permanent Divine endowment by which one became holier and more inviolable, on account of some special prerogative or dignity which he acquired as the Lord’s anointed (Osiander; comp. Psalms 105:15); or, finally, the quality imparted in the three-fold office, i. e., the refreshing and cheering influence (Psalms 40:15), which all Christians receive when they are made prophets, priests and kings unto God, and are strengthened for their conflicts with the world, sin and Satan (anointing of the athletae). 2 Corinthians 1:21 can be correctly construed only as an independent sentence, of which 2 Corinthians 1:22 was designed to give an additional explanation. If we take 2 Corinthians 1:21 as the subject and 2 Corinthians 1:22 as the predicate, so that the idea should be: God who stablishes and hath anointed us hath also sealed us, the βεβαιῶν, which now forms the connecting link with the preceding passage, ceases to be the principal and becomes a merely incidental thought.—In 2 Corinthians 1:22 the phrase—Who also hath sealed us—has reference to the Christian character of all those who had been ordained to the office of teaching, and points out the true source of those peculiar endowments which qualified them for their work. The sealing (σφραγίζεσθαι) signifies in general the act by which a man designates something as his property. Here, as in Ephesians 1:13; Ephesians 4:30, it signifies that Divine assurance of adoption which is effected by the communication and inward witness of the Holy Spirit. Osiander describes it as the complete consecration of one to the service and fellowship of the Lord and his uninterrupted continuance therein (comp. Revelation 7:2; 2 Timothy 2:10). The phrase—and hath given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts—is here added epexegetically, for in this communication of the Spirit lies the true power of the sealing. The whole phrase is a brachylogy [a concise expression] in which the act and its result are taken together; for it is implied that the Spirit is in such a way given that he abides in the heart.—Ἀῤῥαβών is properly the earnest-money, e. g., in a bargain, when some part of the price agreed upon is paid beforehand, in token that the contract is ratified and that the purchaser is bound for the payment of the whole. It is therefore a pledge or security.25 If we take the genitive (τοῦ πνεύματος) partitively, the sense will be, that a communication of the Spirit is begun, and that the portion given is a pledge that the communication will be completed hereafter. If we follow the analogy of 2 Corinthians 5:5, we must regard the communication of the Spirit as the proper warrant for expecting a complete salvation, the actual inheritance (the κληρονομία). The Spirit therefore should be looked upon as the earnest of the whole salvation; properly speaking, the earnest is, or consists of, the Holy Spirit, and the genitive hero is one of apposition [Winer, Gr. d. N. T. § 48, 2]. Comp. on this subject Romans 8:2; Romans 8:10-11; Romans 8:15-17. It seems altogether too contracted a view of this passage to make all that is here said refer exclusively to the testimony which the Spirit bore in the hearts of the original preachers of the Gospel to the truth of their official character. [The expressions more properly relate to the complete assurance which they possessed that they were, both as believers and as preachers of the truth, under the direction of an infallible Divine Spirit.]
2 Corinthians 1:23-24. In the two preceding verses, the Apostle had set forth the firm basis God had given for the confidence his hearers might repose in him, and in consequence of which he had been so abundantly authenticated both as an Apostle and a Christian. This had prepared the way for the appeal to God which he now makes with an irresistible power:—Moreover I call God for a witness against my soul.—This is a solemn affirmation respecting his failure to visit Corinth according to his previous intention and the reasons which kept him from going. Instead of the general us, he now uses the singular I, because he is about to speak of personal matters in which no one but himself was involved. The prominence of the ἐγὠ is increased by its close connection with δὲ (comp. Osiander: [“As God had placed a divine seal upon him and his word, according to 2 Corinthians 1:22, so he now seals his own word with the name of God.”]) Επί has its peculiar sense of against, Meyer makes it mean for (comp. 2 Macc. 2:37), but here it means in respect to; Neander: over my soul. The former sense is more appropriate to the nature of a solemn affirmation or oath (comp. Joshua 24:22), The sense is: “If what I now say is untrue, may God appear as a witness against my soul, and may I fall under his condemnation.”—The condition was necessarily implied and hence was not expressed. The phrase, my soul (τὴν ἐμὴν ψυχήν) does not apply to the inmost spirit, that which the Apostle always regarded as especially akin to, and conscious of, God, and which he therefore places here in this sacred relation to the Omniscient God (Osiander). According to Beck (Seelenl. § 2) the soul is that in which the life is found, and hence is always named as the subject when a preservation, deliverance, peril or loss of life is spoken of.—This solemn asseveration was justifiable on moral grounds, because his credit as an Apostle had been called in question, and with this was essentially connected the honor of Christ, who had sent him, and the cause of God which he represented at Corinth. In like manner, Galatians 1:20; Romans 9:1 f, and other places. W. F. Besser: Even Augustine, in his day, refers to this solemn oath of the Apostle, to prove that our Lord could not have intended in his Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:34) to prohibit every kind of swearing, but only those oaths which were useless and were an unhallowed profanation of God’s name, and hence were arbitrary and uncalled for. In this place Paul made use of an oath, as Christ did (Matthew 26:64), when the honor of God called for it.—Οὐκέτι implies that he had been in Corinth before he wrote his First Epistle (comp. Meyer). [Our A. V. translates οὐκέτι as if it were=οὔπω; Tyndale, more correctly: “not eny moare;” Conybeare: “I gave up my purpose;” Alford: “No more, i. e., after the first time.” Paul does not deny that he had as yet been at Corinth, but only explains why he had not gone there at the time, and on the journey, of which he was speaking. It seems probable from this whole passage (2 Corinthians 1:15-23) that Paul had paid no visit to Corinth between the sending of the First and Second Epistles. See Introd. § 6.]. The reason he had not gone directly to Corinth, according to his earlier intention, but had visited the Macedonian churches first and had contented himself with writing to the Corinthians, is expressed in φειδόμενος ὑμῶν—that I came not to Corinth any more, in order that I might spare you.—He had hoped that they would be induced by that Epistle to return to their right mind and would be so completely restored to their proper relation to him, that he would not be obliged to treat them with a rod of severity (1 Corinthians 4:21). He was not, however, even then without anxiety on this point (2 Corinthians 12:20 f; 2 Corinthians 13:1 ff.)—Not that we have dominion over your faith (2 Corinthians 1:24).—He here anticipates and meets any misconstruction which might be put upon what he had just said about sparing them (φειδόμενος), and he obviates the appearance of domineering which some might find in it.—Οὐχ ὁτι is equivalent to saying: I say not that etc. (a common brachylogy), i. e., “the words φειδόμενος ὑμῶν are not intended to imply,” etc.—Κυριεύομεν is not here to be so connected with ὑμῶν as to make ἔνεκα necessary to be understood before τῆς πίστεως [as if he had meant: over you with respect to your faith]; nor is τῆς πίστεως to be considered as equivalent to τῶν πιστευόντων: them that believe. His object was to say that when he spoke of sparing them, he meant not to use his apostolic authority in a lordly way to control their faith, their inward religious life, and their spiritual action with respect to Christian truth. All this he knew must be the result of a free surrender, and a voluntary determination, of their own minds, not merely at first, but ever afterwards, on each renewed act of faith. A positive expression of his meaning is given in the words:—but are helpers of your joy.—‘Your joy, your “rejoicing in the Lord,” can thrive and maintain its existence only by your putting forth all the energies of your faith in the work of progressive sanctification, in abstaining from all selfish and fleshly desires, and in the perfecting yourselves in love and a positive likeness to Christ.’ In this way not only would their faith be proved, but their hearts would be filled with Christian cheerfulness, and they would become conscious of a genuine and established spiritual life. In all this he had endeavored to assist them by the exercise of discipline, by earnest admonitions, by a strict adherence to the upright course which a genuine love demanded, and by strenuously persevering in the path of duty, whatever censures he might find it needful to inflict on them for their remaining inconsistencies. [As inspired men the Apostles had power to prescribe what ought to be believed, the objective truth on which all right faith is grounded, but they claimed no other authority over men’s subjective faith. “He claimed no right to control their spiritual convictions, but only their outward conduct, and hence he might speak of having spared them only in respect of external discipline” (Erasmus’ Paraphrase). Thus careful was he to recognize the right of private judgment even under the spiritual jurisdiction of inspired men. The reason he gives is, that Christians were steadfast only when they exercise a free faith in God alone, without the attempted constraint of human authority.] The σύν in συνεργοί refers neither to God nor to Christ, nor to his companions in office, as if he had said that he worked in common with them, but to his readers for whose welfare he was concerned, and whose activity in their own behalf was presupposed. That he was here speaking of nothing but a cooperation with them in promoting their joy (in this sense) and not directly of faith, is confirmed by the final clause:—for by faith ye stand,—or rather, in respect to faith ye are steadfast. The Dative here shows wherein or in what respect they were steadfast (comp. Galatians 5:3), and does not point out [as our English A. V. makes it] the reason, or the efficient cause of their stead-fastness. [See, however, Winer, Gr. d. N. T., § 31, 3].
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. How pure the relationship between ministers and their congregations, when the eye of the former is kept steadfastly upon the day of Jesus Christ, and when the latter attend strictly to the doctrine preached to them. The thought that we are both to appear together before the great Shepherd to whom we all belong, who has united us together, and who perfectly knows all that we do to one another, will have the effect, 1) to repress in those who have been intrusted with the pastoral office all motives unworthy of fellowship with God, to render them indifferent to the empty honors of the world and to fleshly indulgences, and to make them long with purer and more intense desire for the salvation of souls, to whom they might be able in the last day to point with satisfaction as those whom they had been instrumental in leading to, and confirming in, the way of life; and 2) to induce the people to make such a profitable use of their instructions and admonitions, to grow in grace, to free themselves from every thing which will not bear the light of the last day, and to abound in the fruits of righteousness, that their ministers may perform their duties with joy and not with grief, and finally be able to point to them as to a thriving and fruitful field which will not dishonor either the great Master or the under shepherds.—But the formation and continuance of this relation must depend very much upon the character of the instruction which is given. When a people are supplied only with opinions derived from the preacher’s own heart or the teachings of men, they can never know with confidence where they stand or the true foundation of their hopes. But when they are supplied with the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ in the ever consistent words of the Apostles and prophets, and with those promises of God which, however ancient, are perpetually fulfilled and confirmed before their eyes and in their own experience, they will always know where to look for direction, will be established in the truth, and will acquire a confidence which no insinuations or calumnies can shake. As his course will never be ambiguous, they will not be obliged to be on their guard against every thing which proceeds from him, his words will be received in their natural signification, and if at any time suspicions are raised against him, they will confidently anticipate from him a satisfactory explanation.
2. The proper relation of a pastor to his people is not that of a lord over his subjects. It is no part of his business to interfere directly with their external social relations, to lord it over their private judgments in respect to God and the Divine word, or to hold them in a state of slavish dependence upon himself. A hierarchy is an apostasy from the mind and spirit of the Apostles. These felt that their office was most honored when they became helpers of their people’s joy, extended a helping hand to such as were weak and struggling, and enabled these to walk securely along the way of righeousness. Their object was to render believers more and more capable of using God’s word and grace for themselves, and to become increasingly skilful and zealous in good works. Their official power depended not upon external accompaniments, but upon the amount of assistance and coöperation they could afford to those around them. It was the power of love and a participation in the sufficiency of God. Of such a hierarchy, those who love to have dominion over men’s faith present only a miserable caricature, and an apish device of Satan, who endeavors thus haughtily and violently to recover what our Lord and those who have our Lord’s Spirit have gained by works of humanity and love. Such ministers boast themselves only in that God who establishes them with all true believers in one great fellowship with Christ, calls them and qualifies them for their office, and bestows on them the Spirit which witnesses to their adoption and is an inward pledge of their eternal glory.
[3. “The joys of a Christian on earth are of the same nature with the joys of heaven. They are an earnest, a part of that which he is to enjoy forever. There will be no other heaven than that which would be constituted by the expanded joys of a Christian. Of course, he who has not such a character, such principles, and such joys, as, if fairly developed, would constitute heaven, is not a Christian.” Barnes.]
[4. “If the inspired Apostles recognized not only their subjection to the word of God, but also the right of the people to judge whether their teachings were in accordance with the supreme standard, it is most evident that no Church authority can make any thing contrary to Scripture obligatory on believers, and that the ultimate right to decide whether ecclesiastical decisions are in accordance with the word of God, rests with the people. In other words, Paul recognizes even in reference to himself the right of private judgment. He allowed any man to pronounce him anathema if he did not preach the Gospel as it had been revealed and authenticated to the Church.” Hodge.]
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
Starke, 2 Corinthians 1:12 : Hedinger:—What an excellent pillow for the soul is a good conscience! Well may we seek for it, purify it, and keep it! An indispensable means to this, is never to neglect the duties of our stations.—With a good conscience, simplicity and sincerity are cardinal virtues by which, no less than by faith, all virtuous conduct is ennobled.—He who has the witness of a good conscience, thereby lives continually at the bar of that omniscient Judge, who tries the reins and the heart. (Romans 9:1). Nothing tranquilizes a man under manifold sufferings, like the consciousness that he brought not his troubles on himself; but even when he is conscious of some defects, the grace of God will sustain him if he is engaged in a good cause; and is suffering, not on account of those defects, but for Christ’s sake.
2 Corinthians 1:13. A Christian’s speech should never be ambiguous or distorted (Psalms 25:21; John 1:47).—The great matter is, to be faithful even to the end; but it is a sad thing to be perhaps faithful to-day, and to-morrow to be like salt which has lost its savor (Matthew 5:13), relapsing into entire worldliness (Hebrews 10:38 f.).
2 Corinthians 1:14. Many despise and hate the preacher who is faithful, and yet fancy that they love God, but the time is coming when the preacher will be honored, and they will be put to shame (Luke 19:10)!—Happy is it when the minister and his people have reason for mutual glorying, but alas! when he is obliged to labor in the midst of perpetual sighings (Hebrews 13:17)!
2 Corinthians 1:16. Even when we have the sincerest and best intentions, our whole conduct may be misinterpreted and ascribed to base motives. But go thy way, perverse world; thou shalt yet see and confess the truth, though perhaps too late!
2 Corinthians 1:19. The Church has now many builders; oh, if all would build on the same plan and would hold up the Lord Jesus Christ in the same way! But with some it is yea, and with others it is nay; some pull down what others build up.
2 Corinthians 1:20. Jesus Christ is the seal and the realization of all God’s promises and predictions. In him we have the manifestation of God.
2 Corinthians 1:21. To be called the Lord’s anointed, and yet not have the Lord’s anointing, is to have a name to live while we are dead.—A genuine Christian stands upon a firm footing, and has no reason to doubt, much less to despair, that God will enable him to hold out faithful to the end; for the Holy Spirit which dwells within him, is the pledge of his establishment, anointing and sealing by the Father.—The Holy Spirit is the precious love token26 which God gives his people that Christ may be glorified in them, and to shed abroad the love of God in their hearts, diffusing in them a peace (Romans 5:5) which assures them of an inheritance of similar blessedness in the world to come.
2 Corinthians 1:23. On important occasions, when the honor of God and the welfare of our neighbor is concerned, we are warranted in taking a solemn oath (Deuteronomy 6:13).
2 Corinthians 1:24. Faith cannot be forced. Fetters and chains are the instruments which antichrist uses for instructing his followers and for ensuring his decisions in the hall of judgment.—Nothing can exceed the joy which true Christians derive from the pledge God gives them of their glorious inheritance by sealing them for it. All true servants of the gospel are helpers of this joy, and never will imagine themselves the people’s lords (1 Peter 3:3).—Those who truly stand in the faith will also withstand the enemy (1 Peter 5:8 f.). But let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall (1 Corinthians 10:12; Romans 11:20).
Berlenburg Bible, 2 Corinthians 1:12 :—A minister of Christ must look mainly to the approbation of his own conscience, for he will be obliged to live as if he cared nothing for the opinions of worldly men.—All things in this case have a mutual dependence; the simplicity of the dove is united with the prudence of the righteous, and with an understanding so purified from above that it will receive or endure nothing corrupt or incongruous in its nature. The eyes are turned always toward God as He is in Christ, and the whole conduct is regulated by the Divine will. This is walking by faith. In it the believer will not be disposed to get up intrigues, and will have no occasion for doubt or fear. Like charity (1 Corinthians 13:4) he has none of the serpent’s spirit, and he keeps constant hold on God. He walks in the light, and he has no corrupt by ends, for his eye is single. Did we all walk thus we might traverse the world without injury.
2 Corinthians 1:13 ff. No reproof is so severe as the words and the example of consistent Christians. The faithful minister will, therefore, be always in conflict with men. We need never expect to be without some root of bitterness and suspicion.
2 Corinthians 1:17. The distinction between those whom God leads, and those who walk according to their own counsel, may be seen in the steadfastness with which the former keep, and the fickleness with which the latter change, their resolutions. The stability of the Christian depends upon the immutability of that Divine Spirit who leads him, and who will allow of no Yea and Nay in Him. Those who have not that Spirit will be subject continually to change, resolving sometimes upon one thing and sometimes upon another, but constant to nothing.
2 Corinthians 1:19. In Christ and His gospel there are no contradictions. What He is in himself, He will manifest himself to be in us, ever the same. Such will he prove himself to be in all those temptations which we sinners must endure with patience.
2 Corinthians 1:20. God’s promises are all connected with Christ. Those then who heartily lay hold of Christ can easily overcome and make their way through all possible offences.
2 Corinthians 1:21. Our eye should be fixed not so much upon the instruments God uses, as upon the work He accomplishes by them.
2 Corinthians 1:22. By the sealing which God gives us, we become so assured of His promises and of the salvation effected by Christ and revealed in the gospel, that no creature can separate us from Him.
2 Corinthians 1:24. Whoever imposes burdens upon the necks and endeavors to have dominion over the faith and consciences of God’s people, thereby puts himself in the place of Christ and becomes an antichrist.
Rieger, 2 Corinthians 1:12-16 :—The reproach of the cross has always something oppressive and crushing to a man. Then those who see him will write upon his cross all manner of superscriptions. But then it is that we may make our boast and stand erect with a right royal and divine spirit. This is not self-exaltation, but in our troubles glorying in the Lord. Such a faith which glories in fellowship with Christ and in His righteousness alone, arms us against the accusations of conscience, and yet so purifies conscience itself that it will allow of nothing which would interrupt our fellowship with a God of light. It will make us diligent to maintain a good conscience along with our faith, that its friendly testimony may be our rejoicing under the unfriendly judgments of men.—The man who faithfully performs the work assigned him by Providence, and never corrupts himself with sinister and selfish views, may be said to act with simplicity and sincerity. As it is in the divine government, every thing here proceeds from a single principle. The Christian may be severely tried, but he will always be an object of divine complacency. Confidence in himself will sometimes beguile a man into expedients of a worldly nature, into subtle schemes and strenuous endeavors to obtain relief, but a true confidence in the living God will support him all along his course with the assurance that grace will be sufficient for his day, and that all things shall work together for his good. He will have no need of concealments, corrections of former errors, double meanings to his words, and forced explanations of what he has done, but his honest, meaning is what every one would easiest understand it to be.
2 Corinthians 1:17 ff. Nothing can be nobler than the common fellowship of all Christians in the gospel, but nothing can be more disgusting than a perversion of it to promote objects of a worldly nature. The purer a man’s intentions are, the more unsuspecting will he be, and the more freely will he adjust his course to new circumstances. While, on the one hand, a worldly spirit in its eagerness to maintain its influence over men, will not unfrequently persevere with fatal obstinacy in the course it has once chosen, a light mind, on the other, changes its purposes without reasons. A proper regard for the guiding hand of God will preserve us from both extremes.—Even in his primary principles no one should presume that he can attain by himself infallible truth. God will, however, faithfully see to it that we have enough in his word to rest upon. The Gospel is no mere plaything, which asserts at one time what it denies at another, and which approves at one time what it condemns at another; but as it proceeds from an unchangeable source, it presents always the same warrant for faith.
2 Corinthians 1:20. The whole mystery of God and of Christ has been contrived, so far as we are concerned, with the special object of giving us promises amply sufficient to afford us perfect peace; but all these promises find their fulfilment in Christ and in the accomplishment of this divine mystery. It is by the work of redemption that God has preserved His own name from dishonor and vindicated His glory in creation; and when He sends forth men to preach His Gospel, it is that they may make known the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 1:21 f. Christ the Son of God has arranged all things in such a way as to promote His Father’s glory; but the Father, as the true Husbandman, watches over each branch in Christ, that it shall be purified and bring forth more fruit. He is the source of all the assurance and certainty, and of all the joy and constancy, which as Christians and ministers, we can possess.
2 Corinthians 1:22. A father sometimes averts his eyes from that which may cause too much shame on the part of a well-disposed child.
2 Corinthians 1:24. Matters of faith and of ecclesiastical order must not be subject to men’s caprices, and changed according to the convenience of kings or subjects. (Matthew 20:25-26).
Heubner, 2 Corinthians 1:12.—The only condition on which we can claim the intercession of our fellow Christians or speak in our own behalf, is the possession of a pure conscience. This can exist only where there is a simplicity which has but one aim and one desire, i. e., to please God, a divine sincerity or purity of purpose which renounces all selfish and extraneous objects, and an uprightness which can bear the divine inspection.
2 Corinthians 1:13. The Christian is always consistent with himself.
2 Corinthians 1:15. The honorable, conscientious man can present himself even before his enemies with cheerfulness.
2 Corinthians 1:17. The Christian should be prudent and conscientious when he promises, that he may never engage to do more than he can perform.—An honest man is consistent with himself even when he changes his plans, for in all his changes he has no selfish ends.
2 Corinthians 1:19. Christ himself is an example of a witness, absolutely faithful, upright and reliable (Revelation 3:14).—What can impose a stronger obligation to speak the truth, than to be the messenger of such a faithful and true witness? Those who have constant intercourse with Christ, and in whom Christ dwells, must surely be expected to have something of His truthfulness and fidelity.
2 Corinthians 1:20. Christ has honored God’s veracity. Every one ,then brings another to Christ, contributes something to the glory of God’s veracity.
2 Corinthians 1:21 f. Stability of character is a grace which belongs to those who are upright, and pious in heart, to those who humbly and firmly maintain confidence in God.—It is the anointing of the Spirit which makes us Christians.—Like every other creature, the Christian has his distinctive signature (mark). The Spirit, the pledge of divine grace and of adoption, is the invisible stamp which every one must bear.
2 Corinthians 1:24. The Apostles would not for a moment have dominion over men’s faith, how much less should those who act only as their representatives? Every Christian should be led by the Spirit freely through the divine word.—The Apostles imparted to others nothing but Christ’s own word, and the Spirit had to confirm it in their hearts.
W. F. Besser, 2 Corinthians 1:12. A Christian may have confidence in the testimony of his conscience, for the eye of his conscience is directed by the Holy Ghost to the clear and faithful glass of the divine will in the heart. (Romans 9:1).
2 Corinthians 1:13. The Scriptures evidently teach us that holy men of God have not concealed their thoughts among the written letters, but plainly expressed them in intelligible words.
2 Corinthians 1:18. How could we know God’s faithfulness and veracity, if not by means of what prophets and Apostles have told us? Through their writings which are not yea and nay, but are in their essential nature only a single word, the Church is a pillar and ground of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15), the faithful witness of a faithful God, and the spotless Bride of the spotless Lamb.
2 Corinthians 1:19. Christ is not a reed shaken with the wind, but a rock. From the mouth of our Lord Jesus Christ, no poor sinner ever heard a yea of promise at the same time with a nay of denial. Justas He was when He stood among His disciples and said (John 14:6): I am the truth, so is He to-day, and will be forever; the preached Christ identical with the preacher Christ.—Jesus Christ the Son of God is the substance of all prophetic and apostolic announcements, the very heart and kernel of the whole word of God; He who has come in the flesh is undoubtedly the one who was promised in the word of prophecy.
2 Corinthians 1:24. Faith cannot be extorted by force or by authority.
[F. W. Robertson, 2 Corinthians 1:12 :—The testimony of conscience. Paul is here speaking, not of the faultlessness of his personal character, but of his ministry—not of the blamelessness even of this, but of its success; he had been earnest and straightforward in his work, and his worst enemies could not prove him insincere. This sincerity excluded, 1) all subtle manœuvering and indirect modes of teaching, which, in the end, seldom succeed. Such straightforwardness is more than a match at last for all the involved windings of deceit; 2) all teaching on the ground of mere authority. The truth he taught commended itself to men’s consciences, and made them feel a flash which kindled all into light at once. Of his words men said, not, ‘How can that be proved?’ but, ‘It is the truth of God, and needs no proof.’
2 Corinthians 1:15-22. Paul defends himself from the charge that he had trifled with his word, on the broad ground that, as a spiritual Christian, he could not do so. It would have been acting according to the flesh, whereas he was in Christ; and Christ was the Christian’s yea, the living truth, and so his life. To be veracious was therefore simply the result of a true life: the life being true, the words and sentiments must be veracious. To be established in Christ, anointed, is to be free from self and selfish motives. A blow is therefore struck at the root of all instability. The course of such a man, like that of the sun, can be calculated. Observe, too, that all this arose, not from his Apostleship, but from the Christianity, which the Corinthians shared with him. It was the gift of the Spirit, which was “God’s seal” to mark him for God’s own, and an “earnest” which assured him of his future glory. The true are His, and none else are blessed. We need not ask, therefore: Will the true, pure, loving, holy man be saved? for he is saved, he has heaven, it is in him now. He has a part of his inheritance now, and he is soon to possess the whole].
2 Corinthians 1:12; 2 Corinthians 1:12.—Instead of the 2d ἡμῶν, Alford and Scrivener (in Wordsworth) say that Cod. Sinait., in the ed. by Tisch. of 1863 has ὑμῶν by the first hand and ἡμῶν by the second. In the edit. of 1865 by Tisch. no notice is taken of any variation here.]
Rec. has ἁπλότητι instead of ἁγιότητι, and it is strongly sustained [by D. E. F. G. L. Sin. (cor.3), the Latt. Syr. Vulg. and Goth. vss. Chrys., Theodt., Jerome, Ambrosiast, Theophyl. and Oecum. Tisch. has restored it in his later ed. and says: “Probabilius est ἁγιότητι utpote quod esset multo plus quam ἁπλότητι, aliena manu inlatum quam sublatum esse.” Paul uses it more commonly especially in 2 Cor.]. And yet ἁγιότητι is adopted by Lachmann [Alford and Stanley] after A. B. C. K. M. [Sinait. (cor.1), the Copt. and Arm. vss., Clem., Orig., Damasc. and Didymus]. It is a more uncommon word, and so (some have argued) less likely to be inserted, and is used nowhere else except in Hebrews 11:10 and 2Ma 15:2.
[Many recent editors (Tisch., Bloomf., Alf., Stanl., Wordsw.) insert τοῦ before the first θεοῦ after A. B. C. D. E. Sin., with a number of vss. and Fathers. Bloomfield thinks that internal evidence is also strongly in its favor].
2 Corinthians 1:13; 2 Corinthians 1:13.—The reading of the Rec. is satisfactorily attested. There are no sufficient critical authorities for the omission of either ἀλλ’ or ἥ or ἅ.
According to the best authorities, καὶ before ἔως should be omitted.
2 Corinthians 1:14; 2 Corinthians 1:14.—The last ἡμῶν is an addition by a later hand. [Sinait., and B. et al. have it. Alford inserts it, Bloomf. and Wordsw. omit it, and Stanley brackets it as suspicious.]
2 Corinthians 1:15; 2 Corinthians 1:15.—The best authorities put πρότερον before ελθειν; Rec. puts it before ἵνα. [Tisch. and Wordsw. read: πρότ. ἐλθ. πρὸς ὑμᾶς; Bloomf. retains the Rec. but inserts τὸ before πρότερον; Lachm., Meyer, Alf., Stanl. and Kling read: πρότ. πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἐλθεῖν; Sinait. omits πρότερον altogether, and reads: ἐβουλ. πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἐλθε͂ιν.]
[For ἔχητε, Alford has σχῆτε with B. C. and Sin., but Tisch. thinks that the latter was conformed to the tense of ἐβουλόμην.]
2 Corinthians 1:16; 2 Corinthians 1:16.—Rec. has διελθεῖν; Lachmann, with good authorities, has ἀπελθε͂ιν. The former was possibly derived from 1 Corinthians 16:5. [Tisch. thinks that “διελθεῖν was disliked by some transcribers because the διὰ seemed sufficiently implied in δι’ ὑμῶν; hence ἀπελθεῖν or ἐλθεῖν (which is found also in many MSS.), seemed more appropriate. Comp. Romans 15:28, where no one has taken the liberty of changing ἀπελεύσομαι δι’ ὑμῶν.”]
2 Corinthians 1:17; 2 Corinthians 1:17.—Rec. has βουλευόμενος with many authorities, in some respects, of great weight. The original reading was probably βουλόμενος (Lach. after A. B. C. [Sin.] et al.) The other was probably a correction from the following sentence. [With quite equal plausibility Tisch. suggests that “the ἐβουλόμην of the previous sentence was more likely to have induced a change than the subsequent βουλεύομαι.”]
2 Corinthians 1:18; 2 Corinthians 1:18.—The weight of evidence is decidedly in favor of ἔζτιν instead of ἐγένετο in the Rec., which was probably an accommodation to the following verse. [Alford thinks it a correction to suit the supposed reference to the past. But Bloomf. thinks that ἔστιν is quite as likely to be a correction to suit what the critics thought a required reference to the present, not recollecting that the imperfect is often used to designate habitual action, so as to be nearly equivalent to the present. He also adds, as a confirmation of this view, that one ancient MS. (Cod. C.) has ἔστι instead of ἐγένετο in 2 Corinthians 1:9, where it is manifestly a critical alteration. The authorities, however, in favor of ἔστιν (A. B. C. D. F. Sin., &c.) are altogether satisfactory.]
2 Corinthians 1:20; 2 Corinthians 1:20.—Rec. has καὶ ἐν αὐτω; Lachm., after the oldest MSS. [A. B. C. F. G. Sin., Vulg., Goth., Copt. Damasc. &c], has διὸ καὶ δἰ αὐτοῦ. Meyer thinks that διὸ has accidentally been left out (a number of MSS. have καὶ δἰ αύτοῦ); and that the words were then conformed to those just preceding. [De Wette thinks that Lachmann’s reading originated in Theodoret’s comment: οὖ δὴ χάριν καὶ δἰ αὐτοῦ τόν τῆς εὐχαριστίας αὐτῷ προσφέρομεν ὕμνον; but it is not certain from this what must have been the text on which Theodt. commented (see note to Migne’s Theodt., p. 383). Alford concedes that the weight of external authority is with Lachm., but thinks that in that case ἡμῶν must mean ἡμῶν καὶ ὐμῶν, which without notice it could hardly do.]
[The word συνέιδησις, signifies etymologically, a man’s knowledge of or conversation with himself. Hugo de St. Victor says: Quando cor se noscit, appellatur conscientia; quando præ’er se alia noscit, appellatur scientia. It refers, however, only to that part of our self-consciousness which is practical, moral and religious, viz. ρη to what ought or ought not to be done. Thus far it is only what Antoninus (Florentinus) called συντή: σις, i. e., careful watching or observation, “the phylactery, or keeper of the records,” and hence a witness with a faithful testimony, as in the text. Beyond this, it is, as in Romans 2:15, a judge of that which is right or wrong in these records, as the facts are understood. Finally, it rewards or punishes by the pleasure or pain which its decisions produce, as in the text it was Paul’s rejoicing. Origen includes all this when he calls συνέδ. “a pedagogue to admonish the soul of better things, to chastise her for her faults and to reprove her.” The Schoolmen turned these three Scriptural functions into a syllogism. The inspired writers make faith indispensable to a good conscience, to give us right views of our relations, and so of our duties and sins. They sometimes speak of one being judged by another man’s conscience, inasmuch as the decisions we have passed upon our own conduct may be applied to another’s. Bp. Jer. Taylor’s Ductor Dub. B. I. Chap. 1; Schenkel, Art. Gewissen in Hertzog’s Encyc; McCosh. Div. Gov. III. 1. 4; Chalmers, Mor. Phil. Chap. 5; Rothe, Theol. Eth. I. § 147.] [Tyndale renders ἁπλότης: “singleness.” on which Trench remarks (Synn. 2d Ser. p. 23) that it would be impossible to improve it. Its literal meaning is: simplex, einfaltig, one-folded. Suicer: “animus alienus a versutia, fraude, simulations, dolo malo, et studio nocendi aliis.” Bengel defines εἰλικρινεία, “sincerity, without the admixture of any foreign quality.” Trench (Synn. 2d Ser. p. 172) and Ellicott (Philippians 1:20) prefer Stallbaum’s derivation from εἵλη and κρίνω, according to which it means: “that which is cleansed by much rolling and shaking to and fro in a sieve;”—“not that which is proved by being held up to the sunlight, but the purged, the winnowed, the unmingled.”]
[There is a peculiar play upon the Greek words ἀνα- and ἐπι γινώσκετε which is well brought out by Chrysostom: ἀναγινώσκοντες γὰρ ἒπιγινώσκετε, ὅτι ἅ σύνιστε ἡμῖν ἐν τοῖς ἐργοῖς, ταῦτα καὶ ἐν τοῖς γράμμασι λέγομεν· καὶ οὐκ ἐναντοιταί ὑμῶν ἡ μαρτυρία ταῖς ἐπὶστολαϊς, ἀλλὰ συνᾴδει τῆ , ἤν προλαβόντες έϊχετε περὶ ἡμῶν. “For as ye read ye acknowledge that we write the very things which ye are conscious that we are in our conduct; and this your testimony is not contradicted by what we write but what ye previously knew of us corresponds with what ye read.” Migne’s Chrys., Vol. X., p. 405. The idea of the Apostle is: we have no esoteric meaning, no meaning at one time which we have not always, none in speaking or acting which we have not in these Epistles, none indeed which you will not find in the confessions you are in the habit of reading publicly in your meetings. Conybeare thinks that Paul was referring to some insinuations that he wrote to some private individuals in a different strain from that of his public letters. Bengel and Hodge think that ἐπιγνώσις is more than ἀναγνώσις, inasmuch as the former combines the ideas of recognition and complete knowledge. Comp. 2 Corinthians 3:2, and 1 Corinthians 13:12; for not only the force of the words γινώσκω and ἐπιγν, but also the use of the Aorist for the present.]
[Wordsworth remarks that Paul “does not say (2 Corinthians 1:15), that it was his settled purpose. βούλευμα, nor yet his θέλημα or will, to visit them. See Matthew 1:19, where ἐβουλῄθη signifies only; was minded, and Philemon 1:13 where ἐβουλόμην signifies: it was my wish, where the wish was finally controlled and overruled by the will. He does not say he wrote that he was resolved to pass by them into Macedonia but only that he was wishing (imperf.) to do so. In 2 Corinthians 5:17, there is a contrast between βούλομαι and βουλεύομαί, and his defence is, that instead of being lightminded, his wishes were controlled by his will, which was regulated by right reason and the will of God, so that his βουλήματα were clearly subject to his βουλεύματα.”]
[The original word here used (and which is found in the New Testament only here, and in 2 Corinthians 5:5, and Ephesians 1:14) is one of the few Hebrew words which passed into the Greek and Latin languages. As the founders of ancient commerce in the West, the Phenicians introduced it among the Greeks (ἀῤῥαβών), from whom it passed into Italy (arrhabo, arrha), Gaul (Fr. arrhes), and even England (Earl’s, or more properly, Arle’s money). The Sept. use the same Greek word for עֵרָבוֹן in Genesis 38:17-18; Genesis 38:20, and yet it appears to have had a meaning in Greek somewhat distinguishable from that which it bore either in Hebrew or in other languages. In these it had the general signification of pledge (Genesis 38:17 ff.), surety (Proverbs 17:18), and even hostages, (2 Kings 14:14). The Greek derivative seems to have been restrained to signify only the deposit or part payment (Hesych, πρόδρομα) which the purchaser made to the vender on taking possession of his property (Suidas, Lexicon). It was therefore identical in kind with the payment which was due, whereas other kinds of pledges might be something of a totally different nature. Blackstone notices the legal significance of an earnest, as a payment which places the buyer and the seller in a position to enforce the carrying out of the contract, (Comm. ii. 30). Comp. also Robertson (Lect. XXXV), who points out that “Baptism is a pledge of heaven—‘a sign and seal’—while the Spirit of truth is an earnest of heaven, and heaven begun.” Smith’s and Kitto’s Dictt. Art. Earnest; Robinson’s Heb. Lexicon].
[Maalschatz, is the gift which is presented to the bride at tier betrothal, by her affianced spouse, as a pledge that he will at some future time bring her to his home].
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Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 1". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30